Miss America makes holiday appearance

Pageant contestants and titleholders are often some of the most active volunteers within a community. During the holidays’, contestants and titleholders often take time out of shopping and holiday parties to make appearances that make a positive impact in their community. But sometimes it’s hard to think of community service activities that work with a busy holiday schedule. So, here are some easy, schedule-friendly holiday appearance ideas to help you through the holiday season.

1. Local Food Pantry. Your local food pantry will probably be collecting food donations for the holiday season. Ask them for a list of items they need to re-stock their shelves and then print up a simple one-page flyer with your name, title, one paragraph bio, photo, information on the organization you’re collecting donations for, and a list of requested items. Distribute the fliers in your neighborhood and tell them that you’ll come by in a week to pick up donations. Ask them to set their donations out in a plastic bag on the assigned day. Take photos of yourself collecting the donations and dropping them off and post them on social media to inspire others to get involved.

2. Toys for Tots or Christmas Giving Tree. Toys for Tots is a national organization that collects holiday toys for children in need. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce, TV station, or church to see if they have a Toys for Tots program. Local churches or large shopping malls often coordinate Christmas Giving Tree or Angel Giving Tree programs. Contact them, or other community sponsors, to see how you can get involved. Get several of your neighbors, friends, or cheer/dance team members to donate $10 towards the purchase of toys. Check to see if you wrap them before you drop them off and take a selfie in a cute holiday outfit for social media. It’s the perfect way to create a smile on a child’s face during the holiday season!

3. Goodwill, Salvation Army, or Charity Organizations. Go through your closets and bag up old clothes or household goods that you can donate to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other community organization. Then, go over to your Grandparents house and offer to help them clean out their unwanted items and donate them as well. Another holiday appearance idea is to organize a collection in your neighborhood or with members of your student group. Someone in need is waiting to use the items just taking up space in your closet!

4. Seniors Citizen’s/Assisted Living Center. Visit your local seniors’ home and ask if there are residents who might enjoy a visit. Offer to help them address and send their holiday greeting cards. Or, maybe you could help them wrap their holiday gifts. Of course, you could also just play a board game or cards with holiday tunes playing in the background. Take photos of you and your new friend and mail it to them later with a holiday greeting card. In just a few hours on a Saturday afternoon, you’ll be making a big difference in the life of someone who could use a little “elf” to usher in the holiday season!

5. Homeless Shelter. Many shelters will be looking for volunteers to help prepare and serve holiday meals. Call your local homeless shelter and ask how you can help. Maybe they need someone to pick up donations from local grocery stores, stock pantry shelves with supplies, or prepare and serve the holiday meal. Another way to help is to recruit a team of volunteers to serve meals. It will take only a few hours to make your holiday appearance, and your smile will bring a ray of sunshine into what might otherwise be a bleak holiday season!

6. Women’s Shelter. There’s nothing more difficult than being involved in an abusive situation or without a home during the holiday season. Call your local women’s shelter and ask what kind of donations would be most helpful. Commonly needed items include shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush, and deodorant. You could also collect stuffed animals or child-sized blankets if the shelter will house children over the holiday season. Collect donations from a group of classmates at school or put a collection box by the vending machine at the office. Even a small donation will brighten the life of a woman or child seeking safety during what should be a joyous time of year!

A holiday appearance is a great way to enjoy the holidays while making a difference in your community. Remember, it’s not about how many appearances you make, it’s about the amount of joy you bring to others.