Holiday season inspires students to volunteer

Student Olivia Hill takes part in volunteering at the holiday display in Regency Square Mall in Florence. Many volunteer opportunities are available to students this season.

In the giving spirit of the holidays, some students might feel compelled to give back. Many opportunities are available to UNA students looking to get involved.

According to Jennifer Brown, director of Student Engagement for Leadership and Volunteerism, UNA’s Office of Student Engagement is available to help students get in touch with the volunteer opportunities that are right for them.

“We post tons of volunteer opportunities on the new Student Engagement website,” she said. “Or you can just make an appointment with us. We’ll help you get involved in the place that’s right for your needs.”

Brown said it is important for students to get involved.

“There are some people who would love to have your bad days,” she said. “Volunteering helps keep us grounded. It helps put a face on what’s really going on out there.”

Though many volunteer opportunities are available all year, many more become available during the holidays, Brown said.

UNA junior general biology major and service chair of the University Program Council Jori Chatman is leading one holiday volunteer opportunity.

“Angel Tree is a program that the Salvation Army has where parents who may not be financially stable can provide their children a great Christmas,” she said. “So, they sign up their children, including clothes size, shoe size, wish list, etc., with hopes that people in the community, or even outside the community, can help bring their child joy.”

Chatman believes that students will get something for themselves through volunteering to help others.

“I am so blessed to be able to live a good life,” she said. “So, my question is ‘Why not spread happiness and do what is right?'”

Students who want to get involved with Angel Tree can contact Chatman at [email protected]. Angel Tree gifts are due by Dec. 8.

Another Christmas volunteering opportunity comes from Hospice of North Alabama, an end-of-life care provider for terminally ill people located in Russellville and serving 17 counties in North Alabama.

According to volunteer coordinator of Hospice of North Alabama Carrie Jordan, Adopt a Stocking is a program that enables terminally ill patients to receive stockings filled with personal care items or toiletries and other types of Christmas goodies.

“This will be our fifth year (organizing the Adopt a Stocking program),” she said. “Our program has grown over the years. This year, the company has given out a total of 200 stockings to be filled.”

Jordan said everyone is welcome to get involved.

“We usually have students of all ages involved in this program,” she said. “This year, we have elementary, middle and high school students, as well as college students, that have adopted stockings to fill.”

UNA students can get involved with the Adopt a Stocking program by contacting Jordan at 256-332-7001 or [email protected].

Director of Resident Services at Mitchell-Hollingsworth Nursing and Rehabilitation Jerolyn Herron said students are welcome to help out during the holidays.

“Our residents adore young people,” she said. “We can always use help with the nursing home events.”

Herron listed several opportunities available to students over the holiday season, including a tree lighting ceremony Dec. 5, a Christmas arts and crafts event Dec. 7, an in-house shopping spree Dec. 9 and an afternoon New Year’s Eve party Dec. 30.

For more information on the events listed above or other volunteer opportunities available at Mitchell-Hollingsworth, contact Herron at (256) 740-5461.

One benefit of volunteering that Herron points out is gaining a new family.

“We would love to become (students’) family,” she said. “Any time you help others, you’re helping yourself, too.”