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Family volunteering  at Christmas


There is added excitement at Christmas time for children when they get the opportunity to be a volunteer.
BY NAOMI SINGLEHURST  

   

As a young mum who volunteered at her local Salvos corps to sort Christmas gifts, Julia arrived ready to pop her (then) toddler Isabelle on a mat with some toys of her own to keep her occupied while she did what she could to help.


But Julia was in for a surprise.


Even as a toddler, Isabelle started enthusiastically pulling gifts out of bags and helping carry them to their designated areas.   

   

Now aged nine, Isabelle and her six-year-old sister Zoe remain enthusiastic Salvos Christmas volunteers.    

   

Julia says volunteering and serving together has enriched the family more than she could have imagined.   


Julia volunteering at her local Salvation Corps at Christmas.

Last Christmas, Julia and her daughters were among more than 20,000 volunteers who, together with Salvos workers, sorted and distributed gifts, vouchers and hampers.   

   

Although aged only nine and six, Isabelle and Zoe overflow with enthusiasm when they talk about helping other kids who might not otherwise have food or gifts over Christmas.   

   

“I think others should do [volunteering] too,” says Isabelle. “It shows how much you care about others and makes them feel appreciated and loved and cared for. It makes their day brighter. I’d be sad if we woke up with no presents. I don’t want other kids to feel like that – including us.”   

   

Zoe wholeheartedly agrees with her sister, saying, “I like helping others. It’s good to do, and it’s nice.”   

    

Helping with Salvos Christmas and the Army’s Red Shield Appeal every year, Julia says her girls have learned that volunteering and helping others can mean sacrifice.    

   

 “They helped first with the physical doorknock and then, as it turned digital in 2020, doing fitness fundraising challenges as a family. In 2023, everything was themed around 100 and the girls did 100km of walking throughout the month of May.    

   

“There were days when it was tough. They were tired. They got sick at one point, or it was cold outside. A borrowed treadmill meant they could walk even on rainy days, and they kept committed to the end goal.”   

   

“You are far more blessed, enriched and get so much joy when caring for others.”  

  

 Julia says she and her family are looking forward to volunteering again as a family this Christmas. Julia and her husband are so happy Isabelle and Zoe are committed to helping others. They now actively and enthusiastically look for ways to care for others and show random acts of kindness.   

   

“You should never underestimate what kids can do just because they are young,” Julia says.   

   

“They love helping at Christmas time to sort the toys because it’s fun, but also because they recognise how much they have and how other kids don’t have that. They also love Jesus and know that the Bible calls us to do good works out of our love for Jesus.    

   

“The good thing about volunteering is that you don’t need to have a lot to be able to give. It doesn’t cost anything except time to stand next to a Salvation Army sign and collect donations. It doesn’t cost anything to sort out toys at the collection sites. But it gives the person volunteering so much satisfaction, and it blesses others in immeasurable ways.    

   

“As parents whose kids also volunteer, my husband and I try to teach our children to have gratitude and be grateful for what they have. Today’s world encourages a mindset of ‘more’ and ‘must have’ and ‘never enough’. That isn’t healthy. It’s important to us to live with gratitude and be thankful for our blessings.    

  

“And as a family, we have learned the secret of volunteering. You set out to give something to others, and as a family that follows Jesus, this is so important. But the thing you discover is, you are far more blessed, enriched and get so much joy when caring for others.”  



  

   

  

 

  

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