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Bloomington nonprofits predict increase in volunteers around holidays



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The Hoosier Hills Food Bank is one of many places to volunteer this holiday season. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

When it comes to the holiday season, key themes are giving and generosity, which is why it is no surprise to see a Salvation Army volunteer ringing a bell at a storefront or to pass a meet Santa event in the mall to raise donations. It seems that everywhere there is a rise in giving and volunteering.

“Both giving and volunteering tend to go up around the holidays, probably giving more so than volunteering,” said Professor emeritus Leslie Lenkowsky, who studies volunteering and civic engagement.

Lenkowsky attributes this to charities creating more fundraising opportunities at year’s end for the holidays. Another reason is because of a trend called Giving Tuesday, which is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. On this day, charities urge people to volunteer and give back.

Cindy Chavez, director of Pantry 279, a local food pantry in Bloomington, said she always sees an increase in volunteers around the holidays. The pantry also sees an increase in student volunteerism but typically from student groups, not individuals.

“I think it’s because people are in a very good spirit,” Chavez said. “They’re getting a lot of pressure to give back because it’s in the media. It’s on the Internet. Everything is give back, give back.”

Ryan Jochim, the manager of volunteer services and community engagement at Hoosier Hills Food Bank, brought up another point. He noticed that volunteerism went up during the holiday season at HHFB partly because of the holiday spirit but also because of student philanthropy groups waiting until the last minute to earn service hours. Jochim said with this occurrence, HHFB has student volunteers up until dead week and even finals.

Katie Broadfoot, executive director of Monroe County United Ministries, said MCUM has seen some decrease in volunteers in the past because many of their regular volunteers are IU students who leave for break. However, she said there is an increase overall because community groups come to volunteer at MCUM around the holidays.

My Sister’s Closet, a nonprofit thrift store for women trying to find employment, has previously seen a decrease in volunteers around the holidays. 

Sandy Keller, founder and executive director of My Sister’s Closet, said she typically sees a decrease in volunteerism due to people'sbusy holiday schedules.

“Having volunteers during the holidays — just amazing,” Keller said. “Those are people with hearts of gold who wear capes under their clothes.”

The Indiana Daily Student compiled a list of six local nonprofit organizations who could use volunteers all year long. However, many of them also have some holiday volunteer opportunities.

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