Volunteering throughout the Ho-Ho-Holidays


Alyssa Christian


Our community is always in need of volunteers to ensure that everyone has a happy holiday. There have been a wide variety of organizations that have been created to help people in need. Whether people are familiar with volunteering or this would be their first time, helping others during the holiday season will be sure to give themselves as well as all around them a memorable holiday. 

Volunteering helps the person, or people, in need, but also carries a multitude of health benefits along with it. Volunteering helps to reduce the risk of depression according to Createthegood.org, and also helps people to stay physically and mentally active. In fact, a study at Johns Hopkins University in 2009 found that “adults… who took part in some… form of volunteer service were able to delay or even reverse declining brain function.” This includes reducing the progress of Alzheimer’s and lengthening the lives of the volunteers. In 2013, an article by Esther Hereema on the site Verywell was published “that outlined a six-year study on social interaction and dementia… The results found that those with higher levels of social interaction were less likely to develop dementia.” 

Verywell also had several points that indicated that volunteering contributes to a feeling of accomplishment and an overall sense of well-being. Not only does volunteering help adults, but it helps younger people as well. Individuals of any age are capable of volunteering in some way and making others happy while also making themselves happy.

One organization that is offering several volunteering opportunities for the community is the Licking County Aging Program. The organization began in 1972 and the current one in Licking county is “the third facility which we moved into in 2012,” according to Licking County Aging Program worker Amy Bunyard.

“Our first big event is the Christmas bags,” Bunyard said. “We do Christmas bags that go out to seniors in need in Licking County.”

Another event that people in the community are welcome to get involved in is a dance and a Meals on Wheels program that the Licking County Aging Program provides.

In order for people to volunteer, they just have to  call or stop in. “We have to do a little bit of a background check, but it’s very simple,” Bunyard said.

The organization gets approximately 150 volunteers each year around the holidays.

“Decoration for the holidays starts the week after Thanksgiving,” Bunyard said. 

Another program that significantly helps the community is the Licking County Coalition for Housing .

“We are not a shelter,” Program Coordinator Kathy Scott explained. “We provide transitional housing or rapid rehousing. So we’re a little bit different in that aspect,” 

The Licking County Coalition for Housing also offers a few volunteer opportunities that the community is welcome to get involved in.

“We do the Turkey Trot as a fundraiser so if someone would want to serve hot chocolate or coffee they can volunteer for that,” Scott said.

Closer to Christmas, people are also welcome to give Christmas meals, Thanksgiving meals or they can adopt-a-family for Christmas gifts.

“We [also] accept donations of household goods,” Scott said.

Granville’s field hockey team recently did a fundraiser for Licking County Coalition for Housing.

“It was really successful,” Scott said. The drive was called ‘Hockey for Homes’ and raised over $4,000 for the organization.

People around the community are welcome to get involved in aiding people in need at the Licking County Coalition for Housing. Individuals should make sure to take advantage of the opportunities that are available for volunteering in order to help others, while also improving the life of the person volunteering as well.  

The Look Up Center in Newark is not only a great place to volunteer time throughout the year, but throughout the holiday season as well. At The Look Up Center, there are many different areas to get involved: Look Up Dental, Dinner at the Center, the Opportunity Store and  BLAST. BLAST stands for Basic Life and Spiritual Training and is for children grades kindergarten through fifth.

Junior Kristen Zehnal volunteers at The Look Up Center once a week. According to Zehnal, she helps with a program for elementary students from low-income families.

“We feed them, play games, help them with their homework and teach them Bible lessons,” Zehnal said.

Zehnal loves being a role model for these young children.

If others would wish to get involved in this volunteer work, it takes place on Tues., Wed. and Thurs. at four o’clock, and typically ends around 5:30.

Volunteering during the holidays is a very rewarding task that every student can get involved in. Not only does volunteering help with stress and other health issues, but it also helps the community and those around the volunteer.

Check out our map displaying different places to volunteer during the holidays.