Volunteering for Christmas

Many of us want to take time to think of others at Christmas and volunteering is a great way to give back, both on the day itself and in the lead up. Roles can vary from donating food and clothing, delivering care packages, cooking, befriending, working on a project or fundraising through sponsored carol singing and bag packing. They’ll tend to be short-term or once-off opportunities and organisations need your help from the 1st to the 28th of December, not just the 25th.

Top tip. It’s important to start applying for opportunities sooner rather than later. Thanks to the generosity of so many people, Christmas volunteer roles fill up fast. The more proactive you are, the more successful you are likely to be in finding a role.

How to search for Christmas volunteering

1. Search I-VOL for Christmas volunteer roles

I-Vol is the national database for volunteering opportunities. Insert ‘Christmas’ into the keyword box and hit Search.  Read each description carefully and decide if it matches your availability.

To apply for any of these roles, you will need to be registered with your local Volunteer Centre. If you are not registered, you will be prompted to do so when you hit the Apply Now button at the bottom of the page.  This should only take a couple of minutes and is completely free.

2. Contact the groups you are interested in volunteering with directly.

Think about the cause you want to help with and start googling. Visiting the organisation’s website is useful to get a better idea of the work they do and how they involve volunteers.

Not all organisations advertise roles with us, particularly Christmas Day roles. The demand from volunteers is so high they often don’t need to advertise. Also, many organisations actually do not take on Christmas volunteers. It is often too much for the stretched resources of a charity to take short-term volunteers through the screening process and to have staff working to manage them. Many will choose to only involve existing volunteers.

Volunteering on Christmas Day

The most common roles for Christmas day are cooking breakfast/ dinner, or delivering Christmas dinner. The popular cooking and catering roles fill up very fast. Volunteering as a caterer or cook

The well-known RDS Christmas Day Dinner Service, has already stopped recruiting for 2017. Run by the Knights of St. Columbanus, this opportunity closes as soon as they reach the quota.  This is usually long before most people even think of volunteering at Christmas. You’ll have to keep an eye on this group’s registration page to volunteer in 2018.

Some organisations, such as Depaul Ireland, collect and deliver dinners from the RDS on the day. Alternatively you can contact Community Centres, Meals on Wheels, Churches and Parishes to see if they need help on Christmas Day. In the main, Meals on Wheels operate independently so you would need to contact your local branch to enquire. Health Centres should know the contact information for their local Meals on Wheels.

Waiting to hear back after applying to volunteer

Be patient, Christmas-time for a charity often means double the work load. Organisations always appreciate volunteers but managing a large volume of new requests can be a challenge at an already busy time of year.  This can cause a huge strain for Volunteer Coordinators, who often have other responsibilities beyond recruiting and managing volunteers.

However if you haven’t received a reply after 10 days, we suggest you get back in touch to check in on the status of your application. If you emailed previously, then pick-up the phone and vice versa. Emails go to junk folders, voicemails get lost, we’ve heard it all!

Remember, volunteering is not just for Christmas!

Most of the organisations mentioned, and many others, need volunteers all year round. Just an hour a week can make a huge difference to an organisation. You can search for opportunities now on  I-VOL.