The holiday season inspires increased volunteering in Geneseo

With the power to cure Ebenezer Scrooge’s grouchiness and make the Grinch himself feel charitable, the holiday spirit has been known to warm even the coldest of hearts – and this year, it seems to have brought out the best in the Geneseo community. While there is almost always a widespread spike in volunteerism around the holiday season, Geneseo Volunteer Center coordinator Kay Fly said that this year Geneseo has really caught the “giving season” bug, and interest in Geneseo’s annual Adopt-A-Family program has been higher than ever.

“We’ve had so many people offering to adopt families; it’s been incredible,” Fly said. “We’ve just been inundated with people who want to give back.”

According to Fly, Adopt-A-Family is a program that allows groups, organizations and departments to work with the Livingston County Health Department and Catholic charities to donate gifts to families for the holiday season.

Each group is provided with a family and a wish list and is then responsible for purchasing and wrapping the gifts from that list for its chosen family.

“There’s been more participation from the different departments in the college too,” Fly said about involvement in this season’s program. “And we’ve even had just groups of students and friends who have wanted to take on a child by themselves.”

This year, 41 different families were assigned to the Volunteer Center, all of which have already been spoken for.

“I think it’s around this time of year that people begin to realize how lucky they are,” Fly said. “They recognize all that they have and decide that maybe they’d like to share it.”

For people who want to keep the good cheer rolling over winter break, Fly suggests volunteering at a local soup kitchen or even just donating old winter gear to a local shelter.

“This time of year is particularly hard on the homeless,” she said, and those “who don’t have [adequate] coats and other things for the cold.”

Additionally, the Teresa House in Geneseo is always looking for help and is particularly willing to offer volunteer hours around the holiday season. In fact, it is there that Fly said she herself volunteers, and where she and her husband always spend their Thanksgiving serving food and sharing time with the families of the individuals that reside there.

“The Teresa House really is a great place to start out and begin to make that commitment [to volunteerism],” Fly said.

So, while for many of us this time of year may be devoted to devouring delicious homemade meals and exchanging presents with our families, it is also a time to give back to our communities and spread a little cheer to those who happen to be less fortunate this holiday season.