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.

Preparing Food

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.

African and Caucasian Women posing for pictureAlthough the event, known as “D25” to its many fans, is sponsored by the DC JCC, organizers stress that participants need not be Jewish.

“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.