Making an impact on pets’ lives, this season and beyond

Spirit of giving

Photo by Ben White / CC0

Dear Paws: As the holiday season swings into full gear, many people may be looking to do something more enriching than just shopping for gifts and getting things we don’t really need. Please encourage your readers to consider donating to their local shelter or offering some of their time as volunteers to help pets during the holidays and year-round. Sign me – Avid Volunteer in Virginia

Dear Avid: You told them, and I thank you! The holidays can be a very hectic time for many people. But finding time to volunteer at your local shelter, or help host a fundraising or pet supplies drive, can be an enriching experience and a break from shopping and planning for holiday events.

While some local shelters don’t have a formal volunteer program, many do. The first step is to contact the shelter or visit their website to find out if they accept volunteers, what jobs they’re expected to do, and how to apply. If you have children who are interested in volunteering, find out what the minimum age is to apply and what kids can do if they’re too young to volunteer.

For example, the adoption center at Boston’s MSPCA Angell center requires a six-month commitment of two hours per week from volunteers, who handle a variety of tasks from cleaning habitats to feeding the animals, walking dogs, socializing with smaller animals, or interacting with visitors. That’s quite a commitment, but the volunteer program is often completely filled each year.

Single-day or weekend volunteer activities may also be available at many shelters, often as group events. These are a great way to get familiar with being a shelter volunteer.

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