Volunteers Flood Charities for Christmas
'Tis better to give than to receive.
But right now, it can also be more difficult.
Top charities are reporting that they are maxed out on volunteers for Christmas weekend events for the homeless and hungry.
Don't get them wrong – managers of the social service agencies that take of Anchorage's poorest are very grateful for the massive volunteer assistance they're getting.
But if you're not already on their list this weekend, they're more in need of your help in the New Year.
At Bean's Cafe, volunteer coordinator Katherine Jernstrom has no worries about serving Christmas Day dinner for hundreds.
"I started getting calls in mid-October; a few dozen a day, and emails, about volunteering on Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day. We're fortunate in that regard."
That seems to be the story for many of Anchorage's non-profit charities during this holiday season.
They're already looking forward to volunteer assistance in the new year.
"When we get past the holidays, we really need people here at brother Francis shelter. They can help with serving the meal,” said Susan Bomalaski, executive director of Catholic Social Services. “Totally, across CSS, we use about a thousand volunteers a year, with 37,000 hours. And if you look at that in terms of employees, full-time employees, it's about 15 employees' worth of volunteer hours. So we couldn't function without that."
Alaskans are generous with their time year-round, but there is a dip when Christmas passes.
"It would be great if we had more volunteers in the winter months after the holidays, when we really need them, and also in the summer,” Jernstrom said. “Lots of people take off on vacations so we don't have as many volunteers."
"We have volunteer activity happening here at the food bank all week long,” said Susannah Morgan, executive director of the Food Bank of Alaska. “We have regular evenings and Saturday opportunities for volunteers for people who work. Sign up to get our regular newsletter for volunteers. And just kick in."
Volunteerism – it's the gift that can keep on giving