By Taylor Burgess
The holiday season comes and goes so quickly that often we wish we had done more to help someone in need.
Here’s a list of just a few of the opportunities available to those who would like to give back this year:
Alabama Rescue Relay
Volunteers are needed to transport dogs overnight from Alabama animal shelters to northern states. Drives usually occur on Saturdays and range from 60-100 miles, saving the lives of many dogs. To volunteer to drive, call Eric Taylor at 256-673-8947.
Barnes & Noble Holiday Charity Book Drive
Donors can bring books to Barnes & Noble at The Summit through Dec. 31. The store hopes to donate 3,000 books to Birmingham Reads, an initiative of Better Basics of Birmingham and the Birmingham Junior League. For more information, call 298-0665.
Birmingham Zoo ZooLight Safari
Volunteers are needed for ZooLight Safari, the Birmingham Zoo’s annual holiday festival set for Dec. 6-8, 13-15, 18-23 and 26-31. Volunteers can assist with the hay ride, games and other activities. For more information, call 879-0409.
Community Grief Support Services
Bereavement volunteer training will be held at Edgewood Presbyterian Church Nov. 16 from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. The church is at 850 Oxmoor Road. For more information, call 870-8667.
Volunteers are needed to cook and serve meals, complete clerical work and help in the community garden at Firehouse Shelter. Math and basic literacy tutors are also needed to help residents in the Firehouse Shelter apartments. For more information, visit HYPERLINK “http://www.firehouseshelter.com” www.firehouseshelter.com or call 252-9571.
First Light Shelter
First Light, a shelter for homeless women and children, will mail greeting card gifts in honor or in remembrance of donors’ loved ones. To volunteer at the shelter, call 323-4277. To make a donation and send a gift, visit firstlightshelter.org/events/holidaylights.html.
Habitat for Humanity Great Birmingham
In December, Habitat for Humanity will host its annual Home for the Holidays house build. Over 10 days, 10 organizations will provide volunteers to build a new home for a deserving Birmingham family. To learn more or to volunteer an organization, call 780-1234.
Hands on Birmingham
Hands on Birmingham will hold its annual Family Volunteer Day from 8 a.m.-noon on Nov. 23. Sponsored by Disney’s Friends for Change, Energen and UBS, the event includes family projects at camps, waterways, parks and gardens as well as painting murals and packing snacks for the Ronald McDonald house. For more information, call 458-8934 or visit handsonbirmingham.org/FVD.
Home Instead Senior Care
The Home Instead national organization will partner with the Birmingham community for the Be a Santa to a Senior program, which provides gifts and companionship for local needy seniors. The program runs from Nov. 1-Dec. 6. Donors can choose from a list of recommended items to deliver to the Home Instead office at 2059 Columbiana Road, Suite 105 in Vestavia Hills. To volunteer to distribute gifts or for more information, call 822-1915.
Jimmie Hale Mission
Volunteers can serve meals during the holidays at the Mission’s Shepura Men’s Center and Jessie’s Place for homeless women and children. Children can decorate holiday placemats that are distributed to the mission’s facilities. To sign up to serve, call 323-5878. To download a placemat, visit jimmiehalemission.com/content.asp?id=386660#serve.
Operation Christmas Child
The Samaritan’s Purse-sponsored annual project will hold its National Collection Week for gift-filled shoeboxes Nov. 18-25. Donors can drop off gifts at any of 20 locations in the Birmingham area. To learn about collections sites and operating hours, call 800-353-5949. To learn how to participate and volunteer, call 915-4241.
Pecans for Autism
Order a variety of candied, chocolate-covered, salted and dipped pecans this holiday season to support autism. Glenwood Autism and Behavioral Center started selling pecans to support its program more than 35 years ago. Custom gift packaging is available. For more information or to place an order, visit www.glenwood.org or call 729-2189.
Ronald McDonald House
With just seven full-time staff members, the Birmingham Ronald McDonald House relies on volunteers to help answer phones, cook nightly and holiday dinners and help with cleaning and landscaping. For more ways to help the families staying at the Ronald McDonald House this holiday season, visit www.rmhca.org or call 638-7255.
Salvation Army Angel Tree
Donors can sponsor a child in need from Nov. 15-Dec. 7 at Colonial Brookwood Village. Approximately 7,000 children need sponsorship this holiday season. For more information, call the Birmingham Salvation Army at 328-2420 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
Toys for Tots
Toys for Tots, a U.S. Marine Corps program that distributes toys to underprivileged children, needs volunteers to unload, sort, bag, tag and carry toys. On Dec. 7, 9, 10, 11 and 12, volunteers can meet at the YMCA of Greater Birmingham to assist. For more information, contact David Hill at 801-7209 or email@example.com.