In the Christmas season, opportunities abound for volunteers to give the gift of ministry in communities. Below is a list of seasonal volunteer ideas organized by districts that can offer renewal in the midst of the hustle and bustle of shopping, baking, decorating, visiting and hosting gatherings.
This holiday volunteer “match-up” anticipates the post-holiday launch of the "Volunteer Connect" initiative, which is an online community that will help volunteers match their ministry interests and location with opportunities. Premiering in early 2017, “Volunteer Connect” will help volunteers find ways to make a positive difference all year ‘round.
Click here to submit your church’s volunteer opportunities for the holidays and ongoing in 2017, and share the "Volunteer Connect" news on social media.
- Collect supplies with FUMC, Boca Raton, for PBC Food Project. "We will be collecting food every two months on a designated date (Second Saturday of even months) to be donated to Boca Helping Hands and CROS ministries. We will need volunteers to be neighborhood coordinators, Saturday drop off helpers, and more."
- Sort holiday donations at a CROS Ministry food pantry, locations in West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Del Ray, Bell Glade, Indiantown and Jupiter. "CROS Ministries manages seven food pantries in South Florida. We are blessed to receive tons of unsorted, nonperishable food donations in November, December and May. We need groups of volunteers to sort and box these food donations for distribution to the poor and hungry members of our communities. This project is ongoing throughout the year but we need increased numbers of volunteers from December to January and May for 1 to 3 days per team."
- Contribute to FUMC's partnership with Vero Beach Elementary through The Food Sacks program. "The Food Sacks program meets the need for homeless and near homeless children to have food over the weekend."
- Connect to Good News Jail Ministry, Seminole County through Community UMC, Casselberry. "Good News Ministry supports the chaplains at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford. These chaplains receive no government aid and are dependent on funds from churches and individuals. In addition to monetary support, CUMC supplies goody bags for the inmates at Christmas."
- Get involved with Finding the Lost Sheep Street Ministry at FUMC, Winter Garden. "It has outreach programs for men, women and children, including a Vacation Bible School, Mission Fair, Supper Nights and Christmas Outreach. We assist this ministry through donations, such as new toys for its Christmas Outreach program, as well as other forms of support. Contact the church office to find out how you can serve."
- Plan a special gift to change a child's future through the Florida United Methodist Children's Home. "Find out What to Give and learn about the best assets to make a planned gift. Learn about gifts of cash, securities and property. Learn How to Give and discover gift options that provide tax and income benefits. Discover the best planned gift to meet your goals."
|Skycrest volunteers make Christmas crafts with preschool students.|
- Prepare Advent Boxes with FUMC, Dunedin. "Have you heard about Advent Boxes? In the hustle and bustle of Christmas, it’s easy to lose sight of the meaning and beauty of Advent. First, you need a box – and any type of box will do. Each day, put something into the box. You can put in prayers, canned goods for Dunedin Cares, toiletries for Grace House, new socks for Clothes for Kids – the sky is the limit to what you can include in your box."
- Buy this year's Christmas lights in God's Treasure House Thrift Shop at Faith UMC, Hudson, and volunteer to work the register. "The Thrift Shop inventory regularly includes clothing as well as furniture, books, movies, jewelry, dishes, small appliances, linens, and other household goods. They have an excellent supply of Christmas items and decorations around the holidays and have many like-new items or even some new items that would make lovely gifts. The inventory changes constantly, so make sure you check the shop frequently. The Thrift Shop is staffed solely by volunteers, who sort through all donations and price items for sale. Proceeds from sales go to the church expenses."
- Provide for families with Hope UMC, Trinity, at The Holiday Center. "The Holiday Center provides Christmas for almost 800 Pasco County families by giving them not only food that they need but also providing activities for the children while the parent(s) “shop” for age-appropriate gifts."
- Drop off supplies at Open Arms Village in Ocala. "Your donation will help homeless individuals as they work to change their circumstances by providing food, shelter, laundering, transportation and case management. No one should face the challenges of life alone. Together we can create a community that allows each individual to reach their full potential and have a second chance at life."
- Hang an ornament on a Gainesville First Angel Tree. "This year’s Angel Trees will support Murphy Harpst and Family Promise. Murphy Harpst is a United Methodist supported school in Georgia that works with youth that have been severely abused. Family Promise works with homeless families here in our community to educate and teach skills to move families with children from helplessness to self-sufficiency."
- Drop off supplies with Beach Church Jax or Mission House to support Light of the World Ministries. "We're teaming up with Light of the World Ministries to collect socks, underwear and bras to distribute to our homeless friends during our Christmas Day Dinner. We'd love for you to drop off your donations in the giant gift boxes in the BeachKids Zone or the Worship Center lobby."
- Learn how you can get involved at Ortega UMC in holiday outreach through opportunities like Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child. "Ortega has many opportunities on campus, in our community, and internationally to volunteer and support missions projects and other missions as well."
- Become a Christmas Angel at CrossRoad UMC. "Assist in providing our neighborhood and church families with Christmas gifts for their children. Provide a Christmas Angel gift, one of the needed wrapping supplies, and/or serve on a sorting and delivery team."
|Members of Arlington UMC volunteered with the Salvation Army this year.|
- Go Christmas shopping at the Alternative Christmas Market in the Killearn UMC courtyard. "This year, instead of stressing over the perfect gift for someone, why not honor them with a gift that will be a blessing to others? Your gift through the Alternative Christmas Market will support one of our many ministries that spend all year sharing the true gift of Christmas, the love of Jesus, with others."
- Get stitching with Stitches of Love hosted at Trenton UMC. "The Stitches of Love (above) meets at 3 p.m. on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month to work on handicrafts such as knitting, sewing and crocheting. The ladies often make items for the orphanage, the community, and the mission we support. If you are interested in handicrafts, they would love for you to join them."
- Sign up to join the Helping our Neighbors team at FUMC, Madison. "Using our church’s funding for Local Missions, we hope to perform more worthy projects in the near future. If you are interested in helping in any way, please let the church office know. Certainly being a carpenter is not a requirement."
- Volunteer your time ahead for one of many ongoing local missions at New Hope UMC in Brandon. "These are all initiatives started at First UMC Brandon as a way to respond to the tangible and spiritual needs of our community. We want to live out our faith in a way that is grace-filled, authentic, and genuinely helpful."
- Make a special holiday donation or leave a gift at Asbury UMC for the Bartow Women's Care Center. "The Bartow Women's Care Center is a church and community supported center for women and their children who need a safe place to make a new start. Our support is to donate items of need and to occasionally have special projects with them."
- Sign up to become a Care Ministry volunteer at Temple Terrace UMC. "As an extension of Pastoral care, the Care Ministry is a group of lay church members who strive to connect with church families and individuals when they are ill, have experienced a loss or are experiencing a difficult time for a number of reasons. Hearing a kind word, receiving a visit, spending time in prayer or maybe just receiving a card, can do wonders to lift one's spirits."
- Donate time, money, food or goods to Cornerstone Food Pantry. "The process of obtaining, assembling and distributing food is a labor of love performed by church members and community volunteers. Volunteers are always welcome and donations are greatly appreciated."
- Offer to some of your time for the coming year at the Little Schoolhouse, a ministry partner of FUMC, Fort Lauderdale. "Located near the downtown area, Little Schoolhouse has been a mission of First United Methodist Church for over 40 years. Its purpose is to serve children of low-income families who otherwise would be unable to provide the advantage of the pre-school experience. Tuition is kept low while still providing highly-qualified staff and meeting all the qualifications required by Broward County and the State of Florida."
|Quilters of Plantation UMC make a dropoff at the Children's Home.|
- Give generously at Cypress Lake UMC holiday services. "Holiday offerings at Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are the main funding sources for all of our Local Outreach and Global Missions work. Your generosity at the holidays, or any time you make a designated gift to Outreach or Missions, makes their year-round work possible."
- Feed the community at PCUMC's Community Christmas Dinner. "Last year approximately 1,000 meals were served between those delivered to shut-ins and those eaten at church. We anticipate a similar response this year based on current community needs. Our Christmas dinner is an important Salty Service community outreach program for PCUMC. Home delivery will be available for shut-ins. Transportation can be provided for those in need of a ride."
- Serve in hospitality at North Naples Church. "Advent & Christmas Eve provide many options either as an Advent Family to light candles at services, prepare for Christmas Eve, prepare poinsettias, serve communion or usher."
If your ministry isn't represented on this list, there's no reason to feel left out. Submit your church's ongoing and upcoming volunteer opportunities to Volunteer Connect, and they will appear in the directory starting January 2017.
Editor's Note: New Christmas volunteer opportunities can be added to the comments of this article.