For many people, the Christmas season is a time for friends and family.

However, there are people who have no one to celebrate with. Many will spend a lonely Christmas day in their hospital beds or nursing home or shelter.

Each year, thousands of people offer their time to charities and their clients during the holidays. But, a huge percentage of those volunteers want to serve food at homeless shelters only on Christmas day.

Serving food is a worthwhile and much needed volunteer task, but with the limited number of shelters and limited number of mouths to feed not everyone can serve food on Christmas day.

So what can you do to make a difference this holiday season? Share your time with people who have no friends and family.

Round up some friends to go caroling at a nursing home. Cindy Wabner, special events coordinator for Juliette Fowler Homes, says her residents would love to hear the sound of “Jingle Bells” drifting down the halls.

If you are not musically inclined, just go visit. According to the Texas Department on Aging, 60 percent of nursing home residents receive no visitors. Imagine their delight when you spend time with them.

Seniors are not the only ones without family during the holidays. The Texas Youth Commission, an agency that rehabilitates youths adjudicated and committed to the Commission by the courts, needs volunteers. The Commission provides troubled youths with skills and support to re-establish themselves in the community.

“Last year, 12 out of the 24 kids could not go home for Christmas,” says Kaycee Pollock, volunteer coordinator for the Commission. “It would be great if volunteers could come and be their families for the day.”

Many children at Buckner Children’s Home also have no place to go for the holidays. The children live in the residential care center because they are abused, deserted or have behavioral problems.

Donnita Fisher, volunteer coordinator for the home, says Christmas Day activities are planned, but Christmas Eve volunteers are needed.

“Groups could come and throw a special Christmas Eve Party so the children wouldn’t feel abandoned,” Fisher says. “It would be great to give the kids something to do besides watching television.”

A party doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Bring a football, play Pictionary or pop popcorn. If you want to offer your time, volunteer coordinators will work with you to plan a fun event.

The list of people to be helped during the holidays goes on. Parkland Hospital needs substitute volunteers. The Visiting Nurses Association needs help delivering meals on Christmas Eve. Several hospitals, nursing homes and residential centers need visitors for their clients.

Without you, thousands of people in Dallas will endure a lonely holiday season. The greatest gift you can give them is a visit from you.

Please note: Holiday volunteer opportunities fill up. If interested, call the Volunteer Center of Dallas at 826-6767 for information.

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