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Cold Days, Warm Hearts: Service Ideas for the Winter Months

Monday, January 11, 2016

Feeling cooped up because of the cold? Keep busy and cure those winter doldrums by helping someone in need. Here are a few wintertime project ideas from past Spirit of Community honorees:

Collect money to help people heat their homes. (Anna Murphy, 2013 Connecticut State Honoree) • Anna started a penny drive campaign to benefit families that needed help paying to heat their homes. She asked her teacher if her entire class could collect pennies for the cause, then persuaded several local businesses to match whatever her class collected. Anna publicized her project online and distributed collection jars throughout the community. 

Help the elderly prepare to ride out winter storms. (Lindsey Marquez, 2006 Colorado State Honoree) • Lindsey assembled “Blizzard Boxes” to provide elderly people with nonperishable food, water, and snacks, to prepare for times when winter weather prevented Meals on Wheels deliveries. Lindsey worked with a local senior center to make her shopping list, solicited donations from local groups, collected boxes from local shoe stores, and delivered the finished “Blizzard Boxes” to the senior center for distribution.

Bake muffins for people staying in homeless shelters on freezing nights. (David Albright, 2014 Connecticut State Honoree) • When David heard that a local shelter provided a warm place to stay – but nothing else – to additional homeless people when the temperature dropped below freezing, he decided to start baking muffins that could be distributed there in the morning. He went from occasionally baking a few dozen muffins at a time to delivering them on a nearly weekly basis. He also recruited his friends to bake muffins once a month.

Knit scarves and hats for people in need. (Sarah Lafleur, 2008 Maine Distinguished Finalist) Sarah recruited and trained volunteers from her community to knit scarves and hats as gifts for visitors to a local soup kitchen. She secured donated materials from a local business, bought more materials with money she earned babysitting, and organized after-school stitching sessions.

Hold a winter coat donation drive. (Makenzie Smith, 2015 Indiana State Honoree) Makenzie runs an annual “coat closet” to collect winter coats, hats, scarves and gloves to help people in need stay warm during the winter. She’s distributed collection boxes and sought out opportunities for media interviews and public speaking to raise awareness of her collection. Every year, she and a team of volunteers work with a charity to hang the donated coats on hangers to create a department store-like experience for the recipients.