Twenty-seven years ago, a group of five young Jewish professionals decided to turn December 25 on its ear, trading General Tso’s and Top Gun for a giant day of coordinated community service.
That modest 1986 event has since become one of the DC area’s largest volunteer efforts: the Washington DC JCC’s December 25th Day of Service, regularly boasting 800-1,000 volunteers ready to sprinkle the District and its surrounding communities with some holiday cheer.
While the event may imply an entire day of volunteering, volunteer time commitments are minimal: just two to four hours. Projects begin as early as 6 a.m., with some not starting until 3 or 4 p.m., making the event ideal for a variety of schedules, says Erica Steen, Washington DC JCC director of community engagement.
Featuring volunteer opportunities as diverse as its participants, many of the service opportunities are hunger-related. Whether you’re into cooking, assembling, serving, or delivering, the December 25th Day of Service has a little something for everyone.
Interested in hunger-related opportunities beyond serving and delivering but not a cook? Don’t sweat it, says Steen. Volunteers are walked through recipes and basically told exactly what to do, Steen says. “You don’t need to be a chef. No knife skills or experience needed.”
There’s delivering and serving meals to homeless women at Calvary Women’s Services, assisting with food preparation for at-risk youth and families at Martha’s Table, packing freshly prepared meals and assisting with meal preparation with Food & Friends for homebound individuals with life-threatening illnesses, and much more.
“The event is a sea of different colors, ages and religions,” Steen reports. “It’s definitely a multicultural experience.” It’s also a perfect experience to do as a family or a team of friends, and it makes a wonderful December tradition with some people volunteering since the first year.
Signing up is a breeze, and volunteers are able to pick and choose volunteer opportunities. Each event has an $20 registration fee, which covers event supplies, plus a two dollar charge for processing credit and debit cards. Visit washingtondcjcc.org/volunteer to register and learn more.