AFLCIO (copy)

Volunteers remove gifts from a vehicle during a gift rally last December at AFL-CIO. That agency is one of several organizations with volunteer opportunities in this year’s United Way Holiday Volunteer and Giving Guide.

The United Way of Greater St. Joseph is marking the festive season with the release of its annual Holiday Volunteer and Giving Guide.

The guide details 13 organizations with 29 volunteer or donation opportunities available during the next few months. Information is available on the United Way website homepage at or by calling 816-364-2381. The guide will be updated throughout the season as positions fill or become available.

The guide is unique because it provides ways to help with the differing focuses and time commitments, said Jodi Flurry, director of community investment for United Way of Greater St. Joseph.

“People have so many different interests on what they want to do and how they want to engage,” she said. “Maybe they want to be more behind the scenes and setting things up or maybe they want to work directly with individuals or families. A couple of the opportunities are actually serving as shoppers to help either children or families find the right item for their family.”

Volunteer options range from helping decorate the YWCA for Christmas to sorting and packing food donations with Second Harvest Food Bank. The variety of options and atmosphere of the season combine to make an ideal time to experiment with volunteering, Flurry said.

“I think volunteering through the holidays is a great first step,” she said. “If you’ve never volunteered much before, this is a great entry to volunteering because it’s such a festive time and people are excited and happy, and you can really see the results of what you’re doing.”

One of the assets in these volunteer initiatives is educational institutions like local high schools or Missouri Western State University, Flurry said.

“We have a great relationship both with the schools and with Missouri Western and their center for service,” she said. “I’ve actually already sent information over to one of their coaches because he was looking for volunteer opportunities for his team.”

Volunteerism is something that Flurry’s own family has extensive experience with from a young age. Her 13-year-old son, Jeremiah, has been volunteering with United Way’s Stuff the Bus program for 10 years and now has his own passion for the work, Flurry said.

Alex Simone can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @np_simone.

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