Dec 8, 2009

Volunteer for the holidays

by Meagan Roper

The Christmas season is here again. Bargain lovers are out hunting for good deals. Dads and elementary school principals are dusting off their Santa costumes. Moms are decorating cookies. College students are running solely on caffeine and fear of coming exams.

For many people in Lynchburg, Christmas entails more than shopping, baking or studying. This month, more than any other time of year, people visit homeless shelters, volunteer to help with fundraising, and give to the needy.

This year Lynchburg Daily Bread, a soup kitchen downtown, has many volunteers to cook, clean and serve at the daily lunch the ministry provides for needy people in Lynchburg.

“For the holidays we have slews of volunteers,” Community Service Coordinator Tish Kirven said. “People start calling about availability near the end of the summer, and some volunteers signed on last Thanksgiving.”

Other ministries are not experiencing the same volunteer traffic. The Lynchburg Juvenile Detention Center has had fewer visitors and groups visit the home this season than in previous years, according to Assistant Superintendant J.T. Smith.

“It’s important to let the kids know that there are people out in the community who care,” Smith said.

“It’s kind of hard, because I’m not with my family,” Josh, 14, a resident of the detention center, said. “It’s good to see people come in here and take their spare time to talk to you and try to tell you something about their lives, and see if they’ve been through something you’ve been through.”

Liberty student and Marine reservist PFC Charlie Chappell spent Friday evening steadfastly manning a Toys for Tots collection box outside Wal-Mart on Wards Road.

“There are kids out there that aren’t as fortunate as others, or as fortunate as I was growing up. I like to help out, do what I can,” Chappell said.

Lance Cpl. Noah Wikander also helped with collections for Toys for Tots. Like Chappell, Wikander’s motivation is to serve those who need it.

“As a Christian, we are called to serve, showing the love of Christ every day, to everybody, especially this time of year. It really means a lot to be able to help out,” Wikander said.

“Christmas is an easy time to be distracted and stressed with the hustle and bustle of the hectic holiday time the world makes it into,” campus pastor Michael Miller said. “It’s important for Christians not to forget the reason for and message of the Christmas we have to celebrate.”

For students staying in Lynchburg during the Christmas break, there are many opportunities to serve. Here are a few:
The Lynchburg Juvenile Detention Center welcomes visitors and volunteers year-round. The center is especially looking for groups to put on Christmas events for residents. Contact J.T. Smith at (434)455-7878.

Lynchburg Health and Rehabilitation Center is seeking volunteers as well. Contact the activities office at (434)239-2657.
The Special Olympics is looking for people to help with basketball games through the month of December. Contact Caitlin Marcotte at (703)777-0438.

Contact Meagan Roper at

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