By Mary Varnell
The holiday season offers plenty of chances for feasting on food and shopping the sales, but it can also be a time to focus on those who do not have easy access to either.
For those looking to donate their time and talents to people in need, here’s a list of just a few of the opportunities to give back this year:
Alabama Rescue Relay
Volunteers are needed to drive dogs to different animal shelters in Alabama. Most driving takes place on Thursdays and Saturdays but can occur any day of the week. Call 979-2690 for more information.
Birmingham Zoo ZooLight Safari
Volunteers are needed for assistance with the hayride, holiday crafts, games, story time, train rides and other activities at Zoolight Safari. The event runs through Dec. 31. Volunteers must be at least 14. For more information, call Bree Garrett at 879-0409, ext. 278.
Community Grief Support Services
Volunteer bereavement training will take place from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at Edgewood Presbyterian Church in Homewood. To register, call 870-8667 or e-mail Erin Slaughter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers are needed to cook and serve meals, complete general cleaning and maintenance work, and to do receptionist and clerical work. There also are opportunities to serve as a speaker, tutor or driver. For more information, call 252-9571 or visit www.firehouseshelter.com.
First Light Shelter
First Light Shelter needs volunteers to serve breakfast and dinner, stay overnight to assist in nightly routines and for fun activities such as games, movies and parties. To volunteer or for more information, visit www.firstlightshelter.org or call 323-4277.
Habitat for Humanity Great Birmingham
This December, volunteers are needed to complete a 10-day house building tradition, enabling a deserving family to purchase a “Home for the Holidays.” Volunteers are needed for house construction and organization. Call 780-1234 or visit www.habitatbirmingham.org for more information.
Jimmie Hale Mission
Volunteers are needed for serving and delivering meals on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Volunteers are also needed to package the meals before delivery. Project Placemat also needs volunteers this holiday season. Placemats will be decorated and distributed to the Shepura Center, Jessie’s Place and Royal Pines. For more information, call 323-5878 or email email@example.com.
Neighborhood Housing Services
Volunteers are needed at the Neighborhood Housing Services of Birmingham to answer phones Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, contact Lawrence Connoway at 281-2997.
Operation Christmas Child
Shoeboxes and other gifts can be dropped off at several locations in the Birmingham metro area. Locations can be found at www.samaritanspurse.org. For more information about how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call 770-777-9342.
Pecans for Autism
Purchase an order of pecans or coffee to support Glenwood Autism and Behavioral Center. A variety of pecans is available, including chocolate-covered, glazed, caramel clusters and more. Custom gift packaging is available. For more information or to place an order, visit www.glenwood.org or call 729-2189.
Ronald McDonald House
The Ronald McDonald House relies on volunteers to keep the house open for families with children in the hospital. Volunteers are needed in guest services, meal service and to organize the pantry. Individuals and groups can volunteer. Visit www.rmhca.org/volunteer or call the volunteer coordinator at 638-7372.
Jefferson County Department of Human Resources Child Welfare needs volunteers for Santa Helpers to assist with foster children, unload and sort gifts, work the checkout table and help with other holiday needs. Volunteers will meet Dec. 1-5 and Dec. 8-10 from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. at Central Park Baptist Church. For more information, contact Robin King at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 423-4566.
Salvation Army Angel Tree
Angel Tree adoptions will take place through Dec. 7 at Brookwood Village. Donors can pull an angel wish list from the tree, shop for the child and drop the gift back at the same location as the tree. For more information, call the Birmingham Salvation Army at 328-2420 or visit www.birminghamsalvationarmy.org.
Toys for Tots
Toys for Tots is a mission of the U.S. Marine Corps that distributes toys to underprivileged children. Volunteers are needed at the YMCA of Greater Birmingham as helping hands to select and bag toys, to assist handing out Santa bags and for a variety of other tasks. Contact David Hill at dhill@YMCABHAM.org for more information on volunteering.