Holidays are a valued time for friends and families, as we all come together to form or reinforce relationships through sharing time and new experiences. The holidays also serve a special purpose in celebrating traditions, those we’ve grown up with and those we’ve created with our own families, adapting along the way with new arrivals and ever-changing circumstances.

“In seeking happiness for others, you find it for yourself.”

As I began my holiday shopping after Thanksgiving, I gave a lot of thought to these traditions, asking myself when they were established and why we have them every year. I also thought of the traditions I loved as a kid, but somewhere down the road we stopped doing them. One of my favorite holiday traditions was when we’d pile in my grandparent’s van and drive for what seemed like hours, looking at all the incredible holiday decorations put on display. It may seem small and unimportant to some, but this was one of the holiday activities I looked forward to most as a kid. Now that my family has grown and we all enter the holidays with our own schedules and requirements, a lot of those prior traditions have been eliminated or replaced.

It’s not that my holiday traditions are less important now as an adult, but for some reason they don’t seem as exciting, as innocent, even as genuine. As I was spending way too much money on people that really have all they need, it became clear that my focus on the holidays became too much about buying the perfect, most sought after gift for someone, instead of giving to the people that really are in need.

Thankfully, a lot of my family members agreed that the importance of giving during the holiday season became overshadowed with the growing demand of the iPad 2 or the
never-been-better Easy Bake Oven. So, this year, we decided to adopt a family for the holidays, and spend our time and our money giving to those who truly are in need. We went through St. Vincent de Paul and adopted a family of three, a single mother and two boys, and have together purchased items for the family they both want and need. It was a great feeling to get my family together and do something positive for someone else over the holidays, and I regret that we haven’t established this tradition earlier.

There are many ways to celebrate the real meaning of “the season of giving”, and it doesn’t have to end with the family and it definitely doesn’t have to cost money. I wanted to share this story with you to hopefully inspire a little twist in your holiday traditions so we can spread the joy of the season even farther than before.

Listed below are some holiday volunteering opportunities in the area. Please comment below and share your family’s holiday traditions. Also, please comment and add to the list of volunteer opportunities with anything I’ve missed.

We look forward to hearing your stories.

Happy Holidays!

  • Pendulum 
Dates: October – December 
(513) 894-4222 
Contact Name: Karen Dishon 
Location: Hamilton 
Decorating project. Help older adults get in the holiday spirit by decorating the facility. 
Be a companion. Socialize with clients, do craft projects or go for a walk with clients. 
Minimum age – N/A
  • Beech Acres 
Dates: November – December 
(513) 231-6630 or [email protected] 
Contact Name: Diane Kleinfelter 
Location: Greater Cincinnati 
Wish Tree Elves. Help with holiday “Wish Tree” activities such as gift tag preparation, pick-up, drop-off or sorting and distribution of donations. You set the volunteer hours. 
Minimum age – N/A
  • HCR Manor Care 
Dates: November – December 
(513) 561-4111 
Contact Name: Michelle Barnes 
Location: Madeira 
Gift-wrapping. Help wrap and/or pass out gifts. Dates to be announced. 
Be a companion. Visit clients during the holidays. Visits can be scheduled individually. 
Christmas carols. Bring the holiday spirit to residents by singing Christmas carols. 
Minimum age – 13
  • Sickle Cell Awareness Group of Greater Cincinnati, Inc. 
Dates: November – December 
(513) 281-4450 
Contact Name: Belinda King 
Location: call for location 
Decorating project. Decorate the facility for the holidays. 
Minimum age – 16
  • St. John (Mercy Franciscan at St. John) 
Dates: November – December 
(513) 241-2186 or [email protected] 
Contact Name: Stephanie Brown 
Location: Kenwood Towne Center, Greater Cincinnati area 
St. John Christmas Program. Help clients with registration for the program in November and early December and assist with distributing gifts in December. 
Minimum age – 13 (unless accompanied by an adult)
  • Miracle Center. Staff the donation drop-off site and the gift-wrap booth at Kenwood Towne Center. 
Minimum age – 18
  • The Salvation Army of Greater Cincinnati 
Dates: November 11 – December 24 
(513) 762-8618 or [email protected] 
Contact Name: Denise Dalton 
Location: Throughout Greater Cincinnati 
2002 Christmas Red Kettle Campaign. Stand at the kettles at various Kroger, Biggs, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, K-Mart, Target, and Johnny’s Toys stores. Several two-hour shifts are available, Monday – Sunday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. 
Minimum age – N/A
  • Boys Hope Girls Hope 
Dates: December 
(513) 721-3380 
Contact Name: Susan Schiller 
Location: Finneytown and East Walnut Hills 
Santa event. Be a Secret Santa for children 9 to 18 years of age. Call for details. 
Minimum age – N/A
  • Families FORWARD 
Date: December 
(513) 721-7044 
Contact Name: Julie Theodore 
Location: Parham School, Bond Hill Academy, Withrow University High School 
Adopt-a-family. Sponsor a family or child for Christmas. 
Minimum age – 16
  • Harrison House 
Dates: December (date to be confirmed) 
(513) 389-4527 
Contact Name: Jeri Montag 
Location: Westside 
Holiday lunch. Help serve the meal and eat lunch with the residents. 
Minimum age – 12
  • St. Margaret Hall 
Dates: December 
(513) 751-5880 
Contact Name: Jaqueline Parrott 
Location: O’Bryonville 
Cookie assistant. Have fun while baking cookies and preparing other holiday items with the residents. 
Minimum age – N/A
  • 
Memorial Community Center, Inc. 
Dates: December (date to be confirmed) 
(513) 621-3032, ext. 22117 or [email protected] 
Contact Name: Etta Massingill 
Location: Over-The-Rhine 
Breakfast and Santa Event. Participate in the event by serving breakfast, busing tables, providing entertainment, helping distribute gifts or cleaning-up. 
Minimum age – N/A
  • North Fairmount Community Center 
Date: December (date to be confirmed) 
(513) 921-5842 
Contact Name: Lois Boerman 
Location: North Fairmount 
Adopt-A-Family. Wrap donated items for the holiday season. Call for location and times. 
Minimum age – N/A
  • Wesley Education Center for Children and Families 
Date: December (date to be confirmed) 
(513) 861-9865 or [email protected] 
Contact Name: Monica Faison 
Location: Avondale 
Christmas party. Help is needed with setting-up this event. You can also assist with activity tables. 
Minimum age – 16
  • Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses East End 
Date: December 1 – 20 
(513) 321-7520 
Contact Name: Evelyn Thompson 
Location: East End 
Christmas Store. Help collect socks, gloves and personal hygiene items for the agency’s Christmas Store Giveaway Program. Help is also needed with setting-up the store December 2 – 19 and with the store on December 20, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (two shifts are available, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 1 – 4 p.m.). Lunch is provided. 
Minimum age – N/A
  • The Salvation Army of Greater Cincinnati 
Dates: December 18 – 20 
(513) 762-8613 or [email protected] 
Contact Name: Ginny Tripp 
Location: Downtown 
Adopt-A-Family. Adopt a family for Christmas with your employer, club or group. Help make it an unforgettable holiday by collecting or donating toys, food, necessities, household items or decorations for a family. The Salvation Army will provide donors with the number of people in the family, their ages, sizes and requested items. Help is also needed with sponsor drop-off, Wednesday, December 18. On Thursday, December 19 you can assist with the distribution of donated items to families and on Friday, December 20 help with clean-up. 
Minimum age – N/A
  • People Working Cooperatively 
Date: December 21 
(513) 351-7921 
Contact Name: Kathy Campbell 
Location: Greater Cincinnati area 
Home Improvement Saturday. Provide simple home maintenance for very low-income homeowners in Greater Cincinnati. Volunteers meet at 8:30 a.m. at the People Working Cooperatively location on Paddock Road to get their assignments. 
Minimum age – 18 (unless accompanied by an adult)
  • Little Brothers, Friends Of The Elderly 
Date: December 24 
(513) 542-7555 or [email protected] 
Contact Name: Yogi Weiss 
Location: Mt. Airy 
Christmas Eve Luncheon. Socialize and have lunch with older adults. Donations for the luncheon and drivers are needed as well. 
Minimum age – 16 (unless accompanied by an adult)
  • Little Brothers, Friends Of The Elderly 
Date: December 25 
(513) 542-7555 or [email protected] 
Contact Name: Yogi Weiss 
Location: Mt. Airy 
Christmas Day Celebration. Make visits to older adults. 
Minimum age – 16 (unless accompanied by an adult)
  • OUR DAILY BREAD 
1730 Race Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Phone: (513) 621-6364
www.ourdailybread.us
Contact: Kathy Ray or Joan Thompson, Volunteer Coordinators at (513) 621-6364
  • OVER-THE-RHINE SOUP KITCHEN
 1620 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202 
Phone (513) 961-1983 ext. #2, 513.241.5121 Manager – David Angevine www.overtherhinekitchen.org
  • WALNUT HILLS SOUP KITCHEN 
2631 Gilbert Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45202 
Phone: (513) 961-1983 ext. #2
Manager – Melody Byrom 
www.walnuthillskitchen.org
  • WALNUT HILLS PANTRY 
2631 Gilbert Avenue 
Phone: (513) 961-1983 ext.
  • #2, or (513) 221-8555 
Manager – Melody Byrom 
www.walnuthillspantry.org
  • INTERFAITH HOSPALITY NETWORK (IHN)
Contact: Betsy Wones, Volunteer Coordinator, at (513) 471-1100 or email [email protected]
  • PROJECT CONNECT AND FACES WITHOUT PLACES
Contact: Trish Fries: (513) 363-3303 or [email protected]
  • LIGHTHOUSE YOUTH SERVICES
www.lys.org
  • PEASLEE NEIGHBORHOOD CENTER
Contact: [email protected] or (513) 621-5514
  • CHURCHES ACTIVE IN NORTHSIDE (CAIN)
Contact: (513) 591-2246
www.cainministry.org