As the holiday season approaches West Michigan, it's a great reminder that it's important to not only give, but also give back.

If you're looking to lend a helping hand this holiday season there are plenty of amazing organizations in the area that are looking for extra help. It's not only a great opportunity for you to make a difference in your own community but it's also a great learning experience for a younger generation as well.

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Here are some worthwhile organizations that could use your help within the coming months:

Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes

Created in 1982 to help Kalamazoo residents who were struggling to put food on the table, this organization welcomes people from all faiths and backgrounds who are fighting food insecurity; according to their website, that's nearly 700 people per day.

The group is a "food bank plus" and all donations stay within Kalamazoo County. In addition to monetary donations and advocacy, KLF relies on close to 400 volunteers to pack food boxes, sort donations, and assist at the call center.

Email ray@kzoolf.org for volunteer opportunities. You can also find a list of needed donations here.

The Salvation Army

Of course, the holiday season means the Salvation Army is in need of bell ringers for their annual Red Kettle campaign, but they also have a strong need for volunteers for the Salvation Army holiday Toy Shop.

Use the "Register to Ring" tool to find local opportunities in Kalamazoo, Parchment, and Portage at storefronts such as Blaine's Farm and Fleet, D&W, or Harding's-- you can even become a virtual bell ringer!

Toy Shop volunteers will, "...help with Toy Shop by assisting clients through Toy Shop process and by helping to maintain toy tables are adequately stocked and filled." These volunteer shifts run from December 14-16 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. More details can be found here.

 Milestone Senior Services

Serving seniors throughout the communities of Southwest Michigan including Allegan County, Kalamazoo County, and Calhoun County, Milestone offers everything from Meals on Wheels to home repair to companionship. Those under 18 years of age are allowed to volunteer while accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Click here to find out how you and your family may be of service this season.

South Michigan Food Bank

The mission of the South Michigan Food Bank is, "To enhance the quality of life for those struggling with hunger in South Michigan." The help of generous volunteers makes it possible for the SMFB to serve families in eight counties across southwest Michigan. 

Currently, there are opportunities to pack fresh food boxes, repackage bulk food items, and prepare specialty food boxes for those with chronic health issues. I especially like their volunteer registration page which allows you to select a time that works for you and shows how many volunteer slots are already filled. Check out the schedule here

More Volunteer Opportunities

The season of giving is just getting underway and plenty of opportunities to give back will continue to pop up across Southwest Michigan.

If you and your family are looking for more ways to give back I recommend checking out the website VolunteerMatch which will show you various volunteer opportunities that are needed right now.

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