‘Deconstructing stereotypes’: The cult witch movie you need to watch on Halloween
‘Deconstructing stereotypes’: The cult witch movie you need to watch on Halloween

Jennifer McShane

The quilted jacket is the staple to see you through winter
The quilted jacket is the staple to see you through winter

Holly O'Neill

This picturesque Victorian Bray home is on the market for €975,000
This picturesque Victorian Bray home is on the market for €975,000

Megan Burns

Sunday Service: There’s a new free self-care series made by women, for women
Sunday Service: There’s a new free self-care series made by women, for women

Sarah Finnan

‘A botanical paradise with spectacular views’: The hotel you need to visit on your next trip to Cork
‘A botanical paradise with spectacular views’: The hotel you need to visit on your next...

Shayna Sappington

‘I’m an obstetrician who became pregnant with twins via an egg donor. This month they turn 5’
‘I’m an obstetrician who became pregnant with twins via an egg donor. This month they...

Amanda Cassidy

Period dramas on Netflix and Amazon Prime to watch while we wait for ‘The Crown’
Period dramas on Netflix and Amazon Prime to watch while we wait for ‘The Crown’

Erin Lindsay

The world’s most sustainable travel spots revealed
The world’s most sustainable travel spots revealed

Amanda Cassidy

Indoor Halloween activities for kids to get you through the mid-term
Indoor Halloween activities for kids to get you through the mid-term

Lauren Heskin

Planning a festive trip to London this year? These hotels really know how to do Christmas
Planning a festive trip to London this year? These hotels really know how to do...

Sarah Finnan

Image / Editorial

The simple way to spread the Christmas cheer this year? VOLUNTEER


by Geraldine Carton
02nd Dec 2018
The simple way to spread the Christmas cheer this year? VOLUNTEER

There are numerous ways you can offer your time, not just money, to help others at this time of year. Geraldine Carton talks to eight charitable individuals to find out how we can all get involved in something really worthwhile this Christmas…


When was the last time you volunteered for a charity? Until only recently my mind would have drawn a blank if somebody asked me this question. Sure, I give money whenever I can, but time? Now that’s a trickier one.

Just a couple of weeks ago I got a crash course in the benefits of volunteering when I spent an afternoon delivering hot dinners to elderly people in the Dublin 5 area with the KARE Social Services Meals on Wheels programme. Whilst I met lots of service users along the route, one woman stood out and highlighted how important services like these are (and how necessary the volunteers who keep them going become).

Breda is an 80-year-old widow who lives alone. When we delivered Breda her meal and stopped for a chat on her porch, she told us how we would probably be the only people she’d talk to all day, saying how the daily delivery and the conversation that it promised was often the highlight of her day. When I asked my fellow volunteer about what happens at Christmas, it was a relief it was to know that the Meals on Wheels service continues running throughout the holiday period. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but think, “But… What if it wasn’t?”.

Related: The lovely reality of working in a Dublin charity shop

The reality is that organisations like this one rely heavily on volunteers, and the demand for people who can spare an hour or two to help is all the greater over the Christmas period. From manning helplines to cooking Christmas dinners for service users, there’s often a never-ending need for manpower over the winter months, and although we may have the best of intentions to get involved, more often than not life gets in the way, leaving our volunteering ambitions to fall by the waste side.

With this in mind, I spoke to eight charitable individuals who have recently volunteered with worthwhile charities. Here’s hoping their example can show us how sprinkling some philanthropy into the yuletide festivities could make this Christmas the most magic one yet!

CLAY

Clayyouthproject.ie
Christmas often brings with it lots of celebrations, and one Christmas party that food entrepreneur Peaches Kemp is particularly looking forward to this year is a special lunch organised by CLAY (Crumlin Lower Advancing Youth – a Dublin-based organisation that runs programmes and activities for the disadvantaged youth of the area).

“I only recently became involved with CLAY when I helped out at their summer BBQ and I didn’t know what to expect, but it introduced to the most wonderful community of youth workers and volunteers who are making palpable changes to the area. Their Christmas lunch will treat the young and disadvantaged to a big Christmas feast alongside presents from Santa, which is just simple, but something that so many of us take for granted.”
– Peaches Kemp

Women’s Aid

womensaid.ie
For TV and radio presenter Blathnaid Treacy, volunteering with women’s charity and domestic abuse helpline Women’s Aid helped her to gain perspective on her own good fortune; “Whilst I might be anticipating a wonderful family Christmas at home this year, working with Women’s Aid has taught me that many women and children across Ireland will be dreading it.”

FYI: This year Women’s Aid helpline will be open 24/7 over the Christmas period. It will be manned by volunteers in their Dublin 2 office, with extra efforts made to ensure the office is as warm and welcoming as possible, including the provision of sweets and treats to keep energies up.

Homeless Christmas Dinner in the RDS

christmasdaydinner.com
Volunteering can make the individual come away feeling like they got more out of the experience than they could ever have expected. At least, this is how Marie Kelly (IMAGE Fashion Editor) felt when she volunteered at the Christmas Day Dinner For The Homeless in Dublin’s RDS, in an effort to finish a bad year on a good note a few years ago.

“This was a difficult year for me, and I wanted to find something positive to do, so I spent it fillingfood parcels in the RDS with hundreds of others for the homeless men and women to take away with them after the dinner. It definitely gave me the boost I needed, and to be honest I feel I got far more from the experience than I was able to give”
– Marie Kelly

FYI: All volunteering opportunities for this year’s Homeless Dinner at the RDS are now filled, but applications will be available in the new year for Christmas 2019.

Related: A beginner’s guide to Meals on Wheels volunteering (and why it’s so great)

ARC Cancer Support

arccancersupport.ie

For Bridie O’Reilly, volunteering is her way of giving back. Having been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, Bridie availed of ARC Cancer Support’s free counselling and treatments and was always grateful of the warm welcome and cup of tea that the volunteers provided.

“You don’t need to have had cancer to be a good Arc volunteer, anyone can put their name forward and training is provided. We always need extra volunteers at Christmas for fundraising and to cover holiday shifts, the hope is just that some will stay on thereafter!”
– Bridie O’Reilly

Dublin Simon Community

dubsimon.ie
For some, the desire to volunteer comes with the desire to improve the community in which they live.
“I was born and bred in Dublin and over time I saw homelessness becoming more and more of an issue in the city that I love, and I knew I had to do what I could to help” says Leinster Rugby player, Ross Byrne, who took a proactive approach and reached out to Dublin Simon Community to see how he could help the homeless in his area. Ross has since become an ambassador for the Simon Home Run, helping to raise thousands for the charity and encouraging others to support the cause.

FYI: This Christmas the Dublin Simon Community have lots of other opportunities for people volunteer; from organising a “Sing For Simon” carol singing event at your local shopping centre, to volunteering as a bucket-shaker throughout the month of December.

Barnardos

Barnardos.ie/Christmas
What about those who prefer their charity endeavours to be a bit more… customised? Barnardos volunteer, Diana Fitzpatrick provides a great example.

“I feel very strongly about supporting our country’s most vulnerable children, and I also love baking, scrabble… I started ‘Dalkey Scrabblers’ as a way to incorporate all my interests whilst raising money for the amazing work Barnardos does. Every week the group comes together to play scrabble, enjoy baked treats and have a laugh, and people can contribute whatever they want to our donation box. It’s a simple idea, but our group has been growing steadily over the years with the support of Barnardos, so I’d definitely urge others to do something similar.”
– Diana Fitzpatrick

FYI: Other ways to support Barnardos this Christmas include taking part in their Teddy Bear Raffle appeal, or volunteering at one of the Christmas parties organised for service users around the country.

Samaritans

samaritans.org
Cindy O’Shea will be manning a helpline for the Samaritans’ Cork branch this Christmas day, as she has done for the last 10 years. “We always need new volunteers, the last thing we want is a situation in which someone who really needed us couldn’t get through because there weren’t enough volunteers available…”.

FYI: This year each of Samaritans’ 20 branches across Ireland will contribute to ensure that its phoneline be kept open 24/7, with volunteers doing three-hour shifts to make this happen.

The ISPCA

ispca.ie
It’s not just humans who need help this Christmas either, as any of the animal-loving volunteers at the DSPCA and ISPCA will tell you. These charities work to promote animal welfare and prevent animal cruelty in Ireland, and they need volunteers to help raise funds and tend to the rescued animals over Christmas, as much as they do all year-round. Mary Daly, Animal Care Assistant of the ISPCA will be spending her Christmas Day caring for the rescued animals at the ISPCA’s Longford centre.

“Animals have so much love to give in spite of the horrible conditions they were rescued from. To me, giving them the extra love and attention they deserve really captures what the holiday is all about”

– Mary Daly, ISPCA Animal Care Assistant.

Also Read

The simple way to spread the Christmas cheer this year? VOLUNTEER
premium EDITORIAL
Business Club members get your complimentary tickets to The IMAGE Business Summit 2021

Don’t miss this year’s IMAGE Business Summit, with an expert line-up, skills masterclasses, keynote addresses and more.Back by popular demand,...

By Shayna Sappington

The simple way to spread the Christmas cheer this year? VOLUNTEER
EDITORIAL
How to limit drips and brush strokes while painting kitchen cabinets

Painting kitchen cabinets can be transformative and can be achieved relatively low-cost, but you need the right equipment, and a lot of...

By Amanda Kavanagh

The simple way to spread the Christmas cheer this year? VOLUNTEER
EDITORIAL
How to let go of toxic people, and the signs to recognise

By Niamh Ennis

The simple way to spread the Christmas cheer this year? VOLUNTEER
AGENDA, EDITORIAL
No, the Olympics haven’t given athletes ‘anti-sex’ cardboard beds

Despite some media coverage, the beds are actually focused on sustainability as opposed to intimacy restrictions. Recently, distance runner Paul...

By Jennifer McShane

The simple way to spread the Christmas cheer this year? VOLUNTEER
EDITORIAL
Attending multiple weddings this year? How to save money as a guest

These days, going to a wedding is the equivalent of going on a short holiday in terms of cost. From...

By Jennifer McShane

The simple way to spread the Christmas cheer this year? VOLUNTEER
EDITORIAL
8 easy ways to keep your brain healthy that you can do right now

Your brain health is just as important as that of the rest of your body, says psychologist and neuroscientist Dr...

By IMAGE

The simple way to spread the Christmas cheer this year? VOLUNTEER
EDITORIAL
5 houseplants we guarantee you can keep alive

For those who buy houseplants with the best of intentions and end up killing them, here’s a selection you’ll be...

By Hannah Hillyer