In this season of joy and giving thanks, let’s all take a moment to think about what we can do to help out those less fortunate than ourselves.

Volunteering during the Holidays doesn’t take a great deal of effort–you can even participate right in your own community. Today, right now, you can go and give your time and/or money to these worthy institutions and know that you’re making a positive impact on your world:

Place of Hope Ministries

Place of Hope is one of the most well-known shelters in St. Cloud, and they’re always looking for volunteers to help them expand their ministry and donations to assist in the reintegration of their wards back into society. Razors, soap, coffee, men’s and women’s clothing, and children’s toys all are needed, and nothing will go unappreciated this Holiday season. View the full list of items needed on their website.

St. Cloud Catholic Charities Food Shelf

The St. Cloud Food Shelf is a great charity designed to help the disadvantaged feed their families. Whether homeless or just worrying where their next meal is coming from, Catholic Charities will help our disenfranchised see a better tomorrow. Find out more about how you can donate either your time, money, or non-perishable food items here.

St. Cloud VA Health Care

Thanks to programs like Heading Home: Minnesota’s Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, the number of homeless Veterans in Minnesota has seen steady decreases in the last few years. As host to one of the largest VA Hospitals in Minnesota, St. Cloud sees an above average population of Veterans, and the VA hospital offers many great ways to give back this Holiday season. Anyone over the age of 13 can donate time spending time with veterans playing games, visiting, cooking, going for walks, assisting with chapel services and much more. The VA is also looking for a variety of goods varying from personal hygiene items to bingo prizes. Learn more at stcloud.va.gov.

Tri-County Humane Society

It’s not just those who walk on two legs and have mastered fire that need your help this winter, our four-legged friends need love too! The Tri-County Humane Society is always looking for new volunteers, and they’ll accept help from anyone as young as ten years old (with an adult). Think of it: everyone loves puppies, right? So why not put your intrinsic human desire to cuddle puppies to use as a fun family bonding experience with your kids? If you have a teenager at home, they can volunteer on their own as soon as they’re 14, so come on in!

We all have a lot to be thankful for, but the Holiday season isn’t merry and bright for everyone. Amid all the festivities, let’s not forget the hungry, the poor, and the huddled masses in our own community. While you prepare for the Holidays, make some time to give back to your community.

How do you give back during the Holidays? Comment below.