The Season of Giving | Volunteer Opportunities in Central Texas


It’s officially the “season of giving” and, this time of year, many people spend their free time volunteering to help those less fortunate than themselves. While we should be sure to volunteer throughout the year, we’ve made a list of some philanthropic organizations in Central Texas you can lend your time and spare hands to this holiday season.

Established in 1984, The Hays County Food Bank is committed to providing food to underprivileged individuals and families in the greater Hays County area, including Kyle, Buda, San Marcos and communities that fall within the Hays Consolidated Independent School District. They hold public food distributions five days a week, and have distributed “turkey boxes” to families in the county every November. These boxes include a frozen turkey and all the traditional Thanksgiving ingredients for cooking at home. Last year, 2,453 families received Thanksgiving turkey boxes, and over the whole year, the Hays County Food Bank distributed more than 620,000 pounds of food to individuals and families in need.

Plum Creek TX

Photo courtesy of The University Star

Volunteers at the Hays County Food Bank can attend one of the nonprofit’s weekly one-hour orientation sessions, either Wednesday evenings at 9 p.m. or Friday afternoons at 1:30 p.m. After orientation has been completed, volunteers can schedule their own shifts, working in the front office, in the warehouse, at the public food distribution centers or at a special event or project.  You can also contribute to the Hays County Food Bank through monetary or food donations. The Food Bank accepts a wide variety of healthy, nonperishable food items including boxed, bagged or canned food. The most needed items are rice and beans, macaroni and cheese, canned fruits and veggies, cereal, canned meats and pasta / sauce. For more information about volunteering at the Hays County Food Bank, call Jim Wagner, the Hays County Food Bank’s Volunteer Coordinator, or email him at jwagner@haysfoodbank.org.

Similar to the Food Bank is the Combined Community Action Senior Nutrition Program, or Meals on Wheels, which serves hot noon meals to persons 60 years of age or older and their spouses, either in congregate settings, or personally delivered to those who are home bound. The Central Texas Meals on Wheels serves twenty communities in a six-county area, including Bastrop, Blanco, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays and Lee Counties. In Hays, CC Action services five communities – the San Marcos Senior Nutrition Program, the San Marcos Senior Center, the Kyle Senior Nutrition Program, La Vista Apartments in San Marcos and the Wimberley Senior Center. Volunteers can deliver meals with their local Meals on Wheels site, or make donations to CCA at 165 West Austin, Giddings, Texas 78942.

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In Kyle Hope and Love 4 Kids helps area children by providing them with basic necessities, comforting them in their time of need and uplifting them through service and outreach. The non-profit is heavily involved in the greater Kyle community, and participates in a number of events throughout the year to raise money and awareness about the program. This year, Hope and Love 4 Kids will be a part of Santa’s Arrival and the Tree Lighting Ceremony hosted by the City of Kyle the first Wednesday after Thanksgiving, November 28th, and they will also be participating in the Kyle Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Holiday Social / Toy Drive on December 6th. This month, and throughout December, they will also be hosting an Angel Tree for area children in need. Distribution of the donated toys and gifts will take place December 21st. A volunteer application for Hope and Love 4 Kids is available online.

Plum Creek TX

Remember, too, that humans aren’t the only ones who need help and charity this holiday season. The PAWS Shelter and Human Society of Kyle is a no-kill shelter that provides care and love to homeless, abused and abandoned animals in Central Texas. They hold off-site adoptions, conduct vaccinations and microchipping services, Behavioral Testing programs, as well as spaying and neutering servicesl. Volunteers at the shelter can participate in a number of fun ways – including making chew toys,  promoting the mission of PAWS and recruiting other volunteers at special events, temporarily fostering cats and dogs until they can be adopted, walking dogs at the shelter, fundraising, taking pictures of the animals and writing biographies for the website, and more. For more information about volunteering at the shelter, visit their How to Help page.

So, if you’re itching to do some good this winter, you have a number of resources at your fingertips. Charitable organizations abound in Central Texas, so just pick your interest, do some research and do some good this holiday season!

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