Join the Marines – or the Salvation Army – in volunteer activities this holiday season
The holidays signify family, friends, parties, gifts and too much food, among other things. This year, instead of just celebrating, you can help others catch a little holiday cheer.
Somewhere between the parades, football games and tables full of family favorites, Houstonians can serve the less fortunate on Thanksgiving Day and help them find a reason to be thankful. The City Wide Club sponsors a Thanksgiving feast at the George R. Brown Convention Center each year. The first turkey leg is served at 10 a.m., and the food doesn’t stop coming until the last person leaves the table with a satisfied stomach. Since 35,000 to 40,000 people are expected to attend, 5,000 volunteers are needed to help set up; serve the turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie; distribute canned goods; and clean up. Don’t worry if you need to get home to put the turkey in the oven or want to catch the Thanksgiving parade, shift times are flexible and can be arranged anytime between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Volunteers are invited to celebrate with the diners and share this Thanksgiving feast. For more information, contact the City Wide Club at (713) 752-CLUB. City Wide Club also sponsors a Christmas feast at the George R. Brown Convention Center on December 25.
Christmas tree goodies
Most children wake up on Christmas morning already excited about what might be under their Christmas tree. But Santa’s gifts don’t find their way down everyone’s chimney. Something as simple as buying toys or wrapping gifts can be turned into volunteer projects to bring Christmas joy to every child. Toys for Tots, a national program run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, seeks to deliver a message of hope to needy children through a shiny, new toy at Christmas, a gift that will motivate them to grow into responsible, productive, patriotic citizens and community leaders. To help out, drop new, unwrapped toys in collection boxes at local businesses any time before December 22. For more information, visit www.toysfortots.org and click on Toy Drive in Your Community, or call Gunnery Sergeant Robert Belk at (713) 796-1260, ext. 267 for drop-off locations. The Salvation Army provides additional opportunities to bring Christmas joy to Houstonians. Their Wish Tree program helps thousands of children and senior citizens with toys, clothing, wishes and needs. You can adopt an “angel” from their mall trees located in The Galleria and The Woodlands Mall. Other locations are posted at www.salvation armyhouston.org. If your favorite task of the holiday season is wrapping gifts, join the Salvation Army at the Secret Santa Warehouse to help with sorting, packing and distributing gifts that come in from various toy drives, including the KHOU-TV, Channel 11 Spirit of Texas Toy Drive; the Marines’ Toys for Tots; and many others. For more information, call (832) 201-8018.
Carols, cards and cookies
The holidays bring family and friends together, but many Houstonians do not have an opportunity to celebrate because of health problems, advanced age or other circumstances. Volunteer Houston’s Holiday Project spreads cheer to these people and lets them know they have not been forgotten. Volunteers visit area nursing homes and the Veterans Affairs hospital to distribute cookies and cards around the year on major holidays (along with singing carols at Christmas). They spend time with the people there, who may not have contact with anyone outside the nursing staff. The Holiday Project is ideal for families of all sizes and ages or individuals who want to spread joy this holiday season. If you cannot participate on Thanksgiving or Christmas, you can also decorate cards for others to distribute. For more information, contact Volunteer Houston at (713) 964-0229 or visit www.volunteerhouston.org and click on the Programs link.