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Service and Volunteer Opportunities: Giving Back During the Holidays

The holiday season has arrived! This the time of year when many of us reflect and take stock of the blessings in our lives. It’s also the perfect time to remember those who are less fortunate, and teach your family the value of giving back. Whether it’s through a seasonal project or a donation, there are many ways to get the kids involved and serve, right here in the Iowa City area. Consider this list of local organizations that could use your help over the holidays.
iowa city holiday guide service volunteer opportunities

Hospital Help

The University of Iowa Children’s Hospital has a list of many helpful donation items, as well as an extensive list of unique special projects for volunteers to participate. Make homemade holiday cards for the patients at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics–it’s such an easy way to get the kids involved!  Don’t forget about the babies and moms at the NICU. Consider delivering a NICU care package filled with items such as: chap stick, hair ties, hygiene products, and non-scented lotion. 

Not all families will be enjoying the holidays at home this year. To support those who are staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Iowa City, consider donating an item or two from their current wishlist. Did you know the house is run by volunteers? To read more about volunteer opportunities such as preparing a meal or decorating for Christmas, click here

The Crisis Center of Johnson County

In addition to regular donations (here’s a list of items that are the most needed), The Crisis Center is looking for donations for Project Holiday. A $25 donation can help bring a meal to a Johnson County family in need. You can learn more about Project Holiday here.

Shelter House

In addition to monetary donations, Shelter House is always in need of items to meet the day-to-day needs of the individuals they serve. You can check out their donation list of most needed items. They also have an extensive list of ways to volunteer

Coralville Community Food Pantry and North Liberty Community Food Pantry

Monetary and food donations are always welcome. You can view specific needs here and here.

Domestic Violence Intervention Program

DVIP has a holiday-specific list that includes toys, books, craft supplies, and more. Find out where to take your donated items here.

Salvation Army of Johnson County

The Salvation Army offers many ways to serve, including: volunteering with their feeding programs or being a bell-ringer for their famous red kettles. Over the holiday season they have 3,356 shifts needed to be filled by volunteers–will you be one of them?

Volunteer Match

Donating items and money are not the only ways your family can help over the holidays. Volunteering time at a deserving organization is a wonderful and rewarding family activity. Connect with organizations and causes that matter to you with Volunteer Match.  

Organize a Drive

Organize a food drive or winter clothing drive through your school or faith community. The Coralville Food Pantry accepts food donations year-round. The Salvation Army of Johnson County distributes winter coats, hats, and gloves from October through March every year as well.

Have a blanket-making party

Host a blanket-making party with friends and family. This can be a fun way to host a holiday party and complete a service project. Project Linus and the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital are two organizations that take blanket donations, and both organizations feature easy no-sew patterns on their websites. 

Don’t forget our furry friends!

The Iowa City Animal Shelter is always in need of donations. Check out their donation wish list. And if you’re looking for a fun service project, check out these adorable and easy t-shirt tug toys for dogs.

United Way

The United Way has a comprehensive list of seasonal volunteering opportunities. Sign up to volunteer at one of their events and enjoy putting a cheery smile on the faces of many. 

Family service projects during the holiday season can be a great way to teach your kids the value of giving back. And who knows? Holiday helping could be the just the start of a lifelong commitment to community service.


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