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Ways to give back in Milwaukee this holiday season

Though I'm sure no organization would ever turn down a monetary donation, here are ways to give back to the people and organizations of Milwaukee that don't involve spending dollars, but spending time in the community instead.

Lend a hand for a day, make an in-kind donation or make it your New Year's resolution to commit to more volunteering in Milwaukee in 2019 and beyond.

Spend a day volunteering in Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel keeps up a weekly listing of short-term volunteer opportunities in Milwaukee County. From driving around elderly residents at the Lutheran Home to stocking the food pantry at Friedens Community Ministries, there are plenty of places you can lend a hand.

You can also call Volunteer Milwaukee, a service of the Nonprofit Center, at (414) 273-7887 or visit its website here for more information on all the current volunteering opportunities in the city.

And, check out the organization's holiday volunteer guide here for seasonal opportunities to shovel snow for older adults, make holiday crafts or spread holiday cheer with music.

Give to a holiday toy drive

Help brighten a child's holiday season by donating a present in a toy drive. You can find donation bins at many stores across Milwaukee.

Make an in-kind donation to a Milwaukee shelter

Shelters like the Milwaukee Rescue Mission are always in need of donations of personal care items, food items and clothing items. This time of year, they are especially in need of winter clothing like scarves, insulated gloves, pajamas, socks, men's long underwear and winter jackets for men and women sizes large-XXL.

Other shelters in Milwaukee (with links to their needs and how to donate) include:

As a bonus, many of these organizations have volunteering opportunities of varying levels of commitment.

Serve a meal

Help cook and serve hot meals to Milwaukee's hungry by volunteering with community meal organizations like The Gathering, St. Ben's Community Meal, St. Vincent de Paul Meal Program and more.

Volunteer with animals

Care for animals at the Wildlife in Need Center, volunteer and/or foster an animal at Happy Endings No Kill Cat Shelter, Wisconsin Humane Society, Second Hand Purrs, Milwaukee Pets Alive or MADACC.

Another idea: If you have a well-behaved dog at home that completes a certification as a therapy animal, you two can volunteer together. Places like Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care look for pet therapy volunteers for hospice patients.

Share your skills on Catchafire

You can use your professional experience and skills to make a difference on Catchafire. Share your expert advice with nonprofits through consulting phone calls or volunteer to work on projects like helping an organization build a website, make a brochure, etc.

Become a tutor

Volunteer at the YWCA Southeast Wisconsin and tutor adult learners in writing and math or teach a class on computer skills, interview skills and more.

Other places to volunteer as a tutor:

Become a youth mentor

Consider working with and inspiring an individual as a long-term volunteer at Big Brothers Big Sisters Milwaukee or as a mentor at the Boys & Girls Club of Milwaukee.

Other mentorship programs:

Or search for a program with MENTOR Greater Milwaukee (MGM).

Clean up

Environmental organizations don't go completely dormant in the winter. Check out volunteering opportunities at  River Revitalization FoundationKeep Greater Milwaukee BeautifulThe Urban Ecology Center and Surfrider Foundation Milwaukee.