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Zaytoen Domingo is a content writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. She is currently enrolled in the Masters program in English at the University of the Western Cape. After graduating with an Honours Degree in English and Creative Writing, Zaytoen completed a skills-development program for writers and became an alum of the GVI Writing Academy.
Six places to volunteer on christmas day

If you’re looking to embrace the season of giving, consider these places to volunteer on Christmas Day, including volunteer abroad programs with GVI

Taking time to volunteer this holiday season is a chance to have a positive impact in the world, while finding a deeper sense of connection with local or global communities. 

Christmas service opportunities allow you to give back and support causes you are passionate about. 

Where can you volunteer on Christmas Day? Here are six great options, including volunteering abroad with GVI.

And of course, given COVID-19 health and safety measures, be sure to check ahead to make sure they are accepting volunteers, and what additional measures you’ll need to take to volunteer safely.

1) Soup kitchens or night shelters

Get involved in a soup kitched as your voluntary work over christmas

Original image: “Volunteers from Nestle” by DC Central Kitchen  is licenced under CC BY-SA 2.0

Soup kitchens and night shelters are some of the most popular spots that you can volunteer with on Christmas Day. 

Many religiously-affiliated organisations need extra pairs of hands over the holiday season. Serving meals, packing emergency food parcels, or sorting through donated goods – such as clothing – are all common volunteer activities at relief centres.

As volunteering over Christmas in soup kitchens and night shelters is a common choice for volunteers, these organisations can often be inundated with people wanting to contribute. 

Volunteer spots are limited, so a better approach can be to volunteer at night shelters throughout the year, when they often struggle to recruit enough people. 

In order to share the Christmas spirit, make sure you don’t overlook other Christmas Day volunteer opportunities.

2) Nursing homes

Through Christmas volunteering, you can support older people who may otherwise spend the holidays alone. 

Age UK reports that as many as half a million elderly people across the United Kingdom expect to feel lonely over Christmastime. 

For many older people, Christmas can be an unhappy reminder of happier times, and people who have passed away. 

Volunteering in nursing or retirement homes, senior centres, or hospitals is a great chance to ease this loneliness. Often all that will be required of volunteers is serving dinner, taking the time to play a game of cards, or just being present for company and a good chat.

3) Animal shelters

christmas volunteering doesn't get any better than working with animals at the RSPCA

Original image: “Is it time for Million Paws Walk yet?” by RSPCA Australia is licenced under CC BY-SA 2.0

Local animal shelters often have Christmas Day volunteer opportunities. 

As many staff are on holiday, volunteers are needed to help feed and care for the resident animals. 

Plus, the holiday period can see a spike in the number of animals being abandoned, as people get rid of unwanted Christmas gifts. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), three pets are abandoned every hour over the Christmas period. 

With animal shelters busier than ever, volunteering around Christmas is a great way to give back to our furry friends. 

4) Women’s shelters

Get involved in christmas volunteering with GVI


The Christmas holiday period can often see more frequent incidences of domestic violence, due to factors such as more time spent at home with abusive partners, and additional financial pressures.

To support women survivors of domestic violence, you can volunteer on Christmas Day in a women’s refuge. 

Care centres can benefit from assistance in the form of donated toiletries, clothes and toys. You could help to collect and distribute donations, entertain children, or serve meals at the shelter. 

5) Local hospitals

Local hospitals are a great idea for places to volunteer on christmas


Hospitals are meaningful places to volunteer on Christmas, as you can help to cheer up people spending the holidays away from home. 

Hospital volunteers can help to provide social interaction, make mealtimes more sociable, or assist visitors by giving them a warm welcome, and helping out with directions around the hospital.

Many hospitals also welcome help with fundraising over the holiday period. You could assist with fundraising events – which can be a great experience if you wish to pursue a career in this field, or you could simply volunteer to hold a collection can on the street. Fundraising is also a great option during the time of COVID-19, when hospitals may be less willing to accept volunteers. 

6) Volunteer abroad

volunteer this holiday season with children at GVI


When considering where to volunteer for Christmas, international volunteer programs are often overlooked. 

But the option of international voluntary work over Christmas could be the perfect solution to the craziness of the holiday season, and the dreary weather that dampens spirits at this time of year in the northern hemisphere. 

Volunteering abroad is a chance to experience warmer weather and adventure while contributing to sustainable global development. 

GVI offers a wide range of Christmas volunteer opportunities in locations around the world. Many of our projects continue over the holiday season, as Christmas is not the most widely-observed religious celebration in certain countries. 

This means you can choose from projects such as women’s empowerment, education, or community development in destinations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.


Volunteer with children this festive season


You could volunteer on projects working to support women’s empowerment in Nepal, where you will add to women’s education, and get to experience the mighty Himalayas. 

Or, you could escape to sunny Mexico, where you could contribute towards children’s learning on the Caribbean coast. 

Another option is to teach English to novice Buddhist monks in Laos. You can spend the Christmas break learning more about Laotian culture and exploring the lush jungles surrounding the town of Luang Prabang. 

Further reading: Ten awesome things to do in Luang Prabang

GVI’s international volunteer programs are all aligned with specific United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). So, no matter where you volunteer, you can be assured your efforts will have a measurable impact

You’ll also have plenty of free time to explore and enjoy your time overseas, giving you the chance to have a relaxing Christmas break. 

Instead of spending the holidays huddled inside out of the cold, you could be shopping hiking through jungles in Cambodia, or sinking your toes into the soft sands of Costa Rica’s beaches

Explore Christmas volunteer opportunities with GVI. Browse our range of international Christmas volunteering programs today.

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