by Jill Piwko



Yes, it’s a super busy time of the year. With all of the holiday activities, shopping, family events, Christmas parties, and more! Why try to squeeze in one more family event into your busy holiday scheduled? I struggle with this myself. The holiday season is a great time to reinforce with your children the importance of giving…and giving back to your community.

I reached out to Monica Priest, Program Manager at Volunteer Kalamazoo, for some ideas in which we could volunteer together as a family during this holiday season. (Also, check their website for Family Volunteering opportunities year-round).

Most of this information comes directly from the Volunteer Kalamazoo website. The information for New Year’s Eve Fest comes from the Event Coordinator for New Year’s Eve Fest.

Here are a few of volunteer suggestions:



Red Kettle Bell Ringers for the Salvation Army

Help to ring in the change by ringing the bell to help raise funds for the Salvation Army. Volunteers must stand for extended periods of time outside to greet and thank shoppers as they drop donations in the kettle.

Skills or Requirements: Must be able to tolerate cold days working outside and have an engaging personality and enjoy working with the public.

Hours: Mid-Nov until December 24, 2-3 hr shifts available between [10am-9pm]. Sites throughout the community. Great for groups and musicians!

Minimum age: 18, or 10 with adult.


Carolers for ZooLights for Binder Park Zoo

Binder Park Zoo is looking for Carolers and musicians to volunteer to perform for our Zoo Lights celebration December 18-23, 2014 from 5:00 pm-8:00 pm each night. Come out for one evening or more, for an hour or the whole night. Carolers can wander or be set up indoors, although Binder Park Zoo is unable to accommodate large groups indoors. Note: that they are open to some organized groups i.e. Girl Scout, Boy Scout, and others looking for opportunities to volunteer. If you’re with an organized group, it is okay to have younger kids in your group.

For more information, call 269-979-1351 ext. 131.

Hours: Volunteer carolers can volunteer for 1 or 2 hours or the entire evening. Check with volunteer coordinator at the Binder Park Zoo. Event runs December 18-23.

Minimum age:  >14 years old.


Holiday Activity Volunteers for the Rickman House

Volunteers needed to assist with special events and parties for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas-time events. This would include preparing and serving food, decorating for events, interacting with disabled adults, and helping to clean up after event. Events are typically 2-3 hours in length. Volunteers should be friendly, willing and comfortable in interacting with disable adults, willing and able to assist with simple cooking and serving of food, help with clean-up, etc.

Hours: Dates and hours vary by event

Minimum age: 18, or 10 with adult


New Year’s Eve Fest in Downtown Kalamazoo

Volunteers are needed to check buttons at the New Year’s Eve Fest. Recommend ages for kids are 8 years old or older so that they can stand and greet people. This is the perfect place to volunteer! Additionally, New Year’s Eve Fest will have a kids craft area in the celebration tent where families can help kids do crafts. Plus, kids can learn how to help seat people, pass out surveys, and simply be the greeting “force” behind New Year’s Fest. Sign-up directly at the New Year’s Eve Fest website.

Hours: December 31, 2014

Button Checkers:
5:15-7:15 pm
7:15-9:15 pm
9:15-11:15 pm

Button Sales:
3:00-5:00 pm
5:00 -7:00 pm
7:00-9:00 pm
9:00 -11:00 pm

Minimum age: 8 years old with adult or teens (15 and older)  can volunteer by themselves, especially in the celebration tent.




If you don’t have time to volunteer this holiday season, here is just a sampling of some local organizations that are very active in our community that are always looking for donations.

Loaves and Fishes

The spirit of giving is in the air as the holiday season approaches! As many of you may already know, the Greater Kalamazoo Holiday Food Drive was cancelled for this year. The absence of the Greater Kalamazoo Holiday Food Drive will stretch Loaves and Fishes resources extra thin this holiday season, and your support is greatly needed and appreciated. Here’s a link to the Wish List for items that are mostly needed.


Community In Schools

Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo accepts donations of school supplies, personal hygiene items, and new clothing year-round, but we currently have the greatest need for the following new items:

  • Winter boots (most requested sizes are 11 – 3)
  • Sweatpants (children’s sizes 4 – 8)
  • Underwear (children’s sizes 4, 6)
  • Waterproof/resistant winter gloves (for elementary students)
  • Backpacks (for middle & high school students)
  • Snowpants

Donations can be dropped off at our office at 125 W. Exchange Place (downtown Kalamazoo) or at one of the following locations that the Kalamazoo Area Clothing Drive is sponsoring:

  • Little Sprout Children’s Boutique (Oakwood Plaza)
  • D&W on Parkview/Oakland
  • Cakes Boutique (downtown Kalamazoo)
  • Urban Modern Hair (downtown Kalamazoo)
  • American Screen Printing (6605 Lovers Lane, business day only)

People can also contact Emily Kobza directly at 337-1601 to schedule a pick-up if you have a lot of items.


Generous Hands

Generous Hands, Inc. is in need of many types of support: volunteers, donations of food and hygiene items, and financial support. Food and Hygiene items needed are:

  • Jars of peanut butter (8 oz.)
  • Bottles of water
  • Oatmeal packets
  • Canned tuna and chicken
  • Toothpaste (4 or 6 oz.)
  • Cans of soup

Donations of food or hygiene items can be dropped off at the warehouse at:
Generous Hands, Inc.
113 South kalamazoo Ave.
Vicksburg, MI 49097


 Hope you enjoy the spirit of this holiday season!



By | 2014-12-17T09:04:56+00:00 December 17th, 2014|Categories: Around Kalamazoo, Learn, Newly Published, Parent resources|2 Comments

About the Author:

Jill is a mom of a busy 9 year old son. When not working the website, Jill likes to hike, cook, and read in her free time.


  1. Jessica December 18, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    do you know of any volunteer activities with younger kids? I would like to start them early on helping others and serving people but my kids are 7, soon to be 5 year old twins and 2 yr old. I know the 2 yr old is probably too young and I could find someone to watch her, but would love to find serving opportunities with my other three. Just curious if there are any ideas for kids so young? Thanks!

    • Jill P December 18, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      Hi Jessica,

      Thanks for the question. One great event is the 9-11 Family Day of Service every year that Volunteer Kalamazoo puts on each year. Definitely pencil it into your calendar for Sept. 2015. I’m also hoping to put some kind of series of articles
      on Volunteering for next year. I’m not completely sure what that’s going to look like yet. I’d love to dig into it a little more and talk to some of my contacts around town. Stay tuned and thanks for the super question! ~Jill,

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