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5 Local Causes That Make This Season About Giving Back

The holiday season is always one full of excitement and is most definitely one of the busiest times of the year. But this season is also about showing love and giving back. It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the idea of gifts, but volunteering or donating to local causes or organizations in your community can be so fulfilling. There is always a time for gifts, especially ones that have special meaning or remind our loved ones how much they mean to us. But we also need to nourish our world and community and remind those who are struggling that they are loved too. There are plenty of options to choose from, so there is bound to be an option that speaks to causes close to your heart.

Here are five local organizations that offer wonderful resources to help those in need.

1. St. Francis House 

The St. Francis House of Gainesville, Florida, is focused on “empower[ing] families with children to transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency by providing case management, housing, food, training and educational resources in a secure environment.” The St. Francis House is a homeless shelter and soup kitchen. St. Francis House provides temporary shelter, emergency food, transitional housing and support services for men women and children of all ages. You can give back by volunteering to help serve about 200 public meals that are served between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. every day. St. Francis House is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To volunteer here, you can apply on their website. The shelter is located at 413 S. Main Street Gainesville, FL 32601.

2. Alachua County Florida USA Chapter of Days for Girls International

The Alachua County Florida USA Chapter of Days for Girls International makes reusable and washable menstrual products that are donated to women locally and internationally. Their mission statement is: “Every girl, everywhere will have what she needs to manage her menstruation by 2022.” The Day for Girls Organization began in 2008 after a visit to an orphanage on the outskirts of Nairobi. This organization takes place in a sewing center and volunteers sew reusable menstrual products to donate. The chapter started as a Girl Scout project and has now evolved into an active group. You can contact the Chapter Chair at Radha Selvester at 1-352-316-6113 and alachuafl@daysforgirls.org. The club is located at 1001 NE 16th Ave., Gainesville, FL 32609.

3. Baby Gator: Child Development and Research Center at UF

Baby Gator is a child development and research center that offers high quality care for children from 6 weeks to five years old. Volunteers read, play and assist teachers in the classrooms on the playgrounds, field trips, meals, snacks and rest time. If you are passionate about working with kids, this is the perfect fit for you. There are three locations that are available around campus: Lake Alice, Newell Drive at the Health Science Center and Diamond Village. All you have to do is choose your location, email the center’s contact and ask if volunteer opportunities are available. Next, download and complete the center’s volunteer packet and email your contact to schedule your orientation. It’s that easy!

4. Hippodrome State Theatre

The Hippodrome State Theatre is a nonprofit organization focused on enriching the Gainesville community through theatre. The Hippodrome needs mainstage show ushers and cinema ushers. The volunteer usher’s responsibilities usually include collecting tickets, handing out programs, and assisting attendants. There are also opportunities volunteering outside of ushering, such as marketing, arts administration and education. Office volunteers usually answer the phones and send mailouts. The Hippodrome also accepts donations like office supplies, digital cameras and furniture.This is an incredible opportunity for those who believe in preserving the arts and helping them flourish. The Hippodrome is located at 25 SE 2nd Pl., Gainesville, FL, 32601. You can contact the theatre for volunteer opportunities at hipp@thehipp.org.

5. WUFT-FM Radio Reading Service

The WUFT-FM Radio Reading Service broadcasts book and newspaper selections to those who are blind and visually impaired with over 50 hours of newspaper and book readings each week. The readings are from local newspapers, grocery and shopping information, weather, blind related publications, entertainment news, news about veterans, local events and tons of other stories. The readings are broadcasted to the listener by a special radio receiver, and if a listener is eligible a radio is loaned to that person for free. If this sounds like something you’d love to do, you can email Rob Harder at rharder@wruf.com.

There are incredible organizations all across Gainesville that can provide crucial services to the community. The holiday season is a perfect time to get involved and give back to those who may not have an easy time during the holiday season. It’s important not to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. Instead, take a second to realize how blessed you are. You can volunteer at any time of the year, and by all means please do, but the holiday season is the perfect time to give the gift of your time and passion for others.

Julia Mitchem is a University of Florida senior majoring in journalism and minoring in Spanish. She is currently the CC for Her Campus at UFL. She believes in empathy and inclusivity, and she works to empower women in everything she does.
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