Service opportunities to brighten someone’s day during the holidays

In 2015, former Hawks player Justin Holiday surprised families during the holidays at the Atlanta Children's Shelter. Who will come out this year? Photo from Hawks website.

In Atlanta alone, there is a homeless population of more than 4,000, as reported by Partners for Home, an organization fighting homelessness with other nonprofit and government organizations as a part of their 2016 Homeless Point-in-Time Count. These people may not be able to look forward to their favorite holiday meal or a warm embrace this season. Fortunately, there are many ways not far from campus to volunteer and give back by spreading hope and joy.

Atlanta Children’s Shelter

607 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30308

This shelter helps children whose families are experiencing homelessness. They provide free daycare for children and construct an educational curriculum to help with school. The shelter also provides the family with emotional support, housing and employment services.

They have helped nearly 8,000 children and serviced nearly 5,000 families. After a volunteer application and service agreement, you can lend a hand and be a part of that impact.

The shelter is now accepting a limited number of volunteers for their 2017 Holiday House (Dec. 11-15) taking place at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Families in need will receive holiday gifts such as clothes, toys and basic necessities. Refer to the “Holiday House Wish List” to see what can be donated during scheduled drop-off times.  

Crossroads Community Ministries, Inc.

420 Courtland St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30308

Crossroads Community Ministries aims to get the homeless into a place of stability as well. Every year, this nonprofit organization serves more than 4,000 people in need.

They facilitate “Clyde’s Kitchen,” which serves meals every day to those who go hungry in our community. Another program called “Crossroads Connect” provides guests with resources to find stable income and housing. Crossroads also provides quality clothing for guests who may otherwise not have access to it with the “Ty’s Closet” program.

Through all of their programs, Crossroads intends to help guests make strides toward sustainability within 90 days. They are always looking for volunteers to help make their initiative a reality, especially during this time of year.


Hurt Park

Less publicized volunteer opportunities happen all the time. One popular location to volunteer on Georgia State’s campus is Hurt Park.

Some of the homeless frequent Hurt Park because of how often outreach programs will host events there. For example, Will2Way Foundation, Inc. hands out food at the park every Monday from 6-7 p.m. On any given weekend, there are other groups that visit the park to serve those who frequent the area.

This is a location where students can easily walk to on the day of any event and the hosts will always accept extra helping hands.

Safehouse Outreach, Inc.  

89 Ellis St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30303

Safehouse Outreach is a nonprofit organization committed to helping the homeless population around Atlanta. The mission statement says they aim to “help people experiencing homelessness to transition to self-sufficiency.”

Volunteers provide “IMPACT meals,” hot meals served to their guests twice a day (except for Wednesdays). Safehouse often uses the IMPACT meals as a time to offer mentoring to guests seeking guidance. They also have live music, creating a welcoming atmosphere for those who attend. “Problem Solvers” work to provide things like mail and medical services as well as a shelter for their guests. Safehouse also has a Career Development Program that offers job skills training to help guests find sustainable income.

Safehouse will have their Outreach Christmas Party on Dec. 15, during which guests can come to share some of the holiday spirit with staff and volunteers.

The Gift of Giving

No matter how you decide to give back, the holiday season holds plenty of opportunities to help those less fortunate throughout our community. This year, think about what gifts you can give before you unwrap yours.