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Best places to volunteer in NoVA this holiday season

From ringing the red bell for The Salvation Army to placing wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery, here are 10 ways to give back this year.

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The holiday season is truly about giving. Giving our time, giving our presence and giving our appreciation to others. 

It doesn’t have to be about the must-have gifts of the year, despite what the craziness of the season might make us feel. If you’re looking for a way to offer a few hours of your time to a local cause, here are just a few ways you can make a difference. 

Red Kettle Bell Ringing Volunteering
Through Tuesday, Dec. 24, various times
When the holidays roll around, do you keep spare change in your pocket just to drop in the big red buckets around town? This year, you can be the one ringing the bell outside of local stores to raise money for The Salvation Army. You know the drill: ring your bell while passerby drop a few dollar bills in the kettle, sing holiday carols (if you feel so inclined), and be sure to tell everyone, “Happy holidays!” Interested volunteers can sign up through VolunteerMatch, or contact Captain Alvaro Porras at alvaroporras@uss.salvationarmy.org. // various locations

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Processing Books for Kids Book Nook at Walter Reed
Thursday, Nov. 28 to Sunday, Dec. 1, 9:30 a.m. to noon
After a local month-long book drive, America’s Adopt a Soldier needs help processing the children’s books it has gathered, which will eventually be in the hands of kids at the Walter Reed Children’s Center and the Cancer Treatment Clinic at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital. Participants will be stacking, stamping and packing books throughout the weekend, and can volunteer for their desired time frame. Interested volunteers can register through Eventbrite. // America’s Adopt A Soldier: 6744 Gravel Ave., Alexandria 

Give a Dog a Lift!
Sunday, Dec. 1, 11:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Pets are part of the holiday season too. Lucky Dog Animal Rescue is having an adoption event and needs your help! Drivers are needed to pick up dogs at the organization’s boarding partners: Wagtime, Wagtime Too and The Board Hound. You are welcome to showoff the dog during the event, and you will return the dog to the boarding location afterward. The adoption event will take place outside and you will (hopefully!) get to meet lots of new friends who love wagging tails as much as you do. Volunteers must be over the age of 18 and have a valid license. Interested volunteers can sign up through VolunteerMatch. // Petsmart: 3351 Jefferson Davis Highway 10, Alexandria

Santa’s Resume Workshop
Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2 to 4 p.m.
The workforce is looking for new candidates, and although they might be ready, their resume might not be. At Santa’s Resume Workshop, the Years Up organization will be partnering with Recruit for the Culture to offer free resume tips and tricks to local residents who need it. Volunteers who are willing to provide resume advice and interview tips to future job candidates, especially those in talent advising, consulting or human relations, are encouraged to register and attend the event at Northern Virginia Community College. Interested volunteers can register through Eventbrite. // Northern Virginia Community College: 4925 E. Campus Drive, Alexandria

Quarterbacks for CASA
Sunday, Dec. 8, 1 to 4 p.m.
Fairfax Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is looking for local men who are willing to be advocates and mentors for abused or neglected children in the Northern Virginia region. Over 50% of the children the organization serves are male, but only 19% of the volunteers are men. The event will allow attendees to watch the Washington Redskins take on the Green Bay Packers and hear from experienced volunteers about their local impacts through the organization. Food and drinks will be provided. Interested attendees can register on Eventbrite. // Crafthouse: 1888 Explorer St., Reston 

Be a Speech Competition Judge
Wednesday, Dec. 11, 6:30 to 9 p.m.
The Emerging Leaders program is looking for a few volunteers who are willing to judge an upcoming speech competition. Two to three volunteers are needed to judge 25 student leaders’ speeches, who have all prepared speeches on topics such as “Who is your role model?,” and ‘”What is an obstacle you’ve overcome?” The winner the judges choose will have the opportunity to present their speech at the Emerging Leaders Program I graduation, often attended by more than 300 people. Interested volunteers can find out more on VolunteerMatch or sign up here. // 1325 S. Dinwiddie St., Arlington

Cookie Donations for Boulder Crest Holiday Open House
Friday, Dec. 13 and Saturday, Dec. 14, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Calling all bakers: the Boulder Crest Retreat Center is looking for your cookies. The retreat center is known for its commitment to improving the physical, emotional, spiritual and economic well-being of our nation’s military, veterans, first responders and their family members. For this year’s two-day open house, the organization is looking for 40 dozen cookies. Each baker is asked to bring two dozen cookies (or other baked goods!) to share with local attendees. Treats that are allergy-friendly, such as nut-free, gluten-free and dairy-free are also encouraged. Interested bakers can register on Eventbrite. // Boulder Crest Retreat Virginia: 18370 Bluemont Village Lane, Bluemont

Serve and Dine with the Black Alumni Chapter
Saturday, Dec. 14, 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) distributes over 45 million points of food thanks to the committed volunteers and donors in Northern Virginia. Join the Black Alumni Chapter at George Mason University for an “all-hands-on-deck” volunteer opportunity benefiting CAFB. Participants will help sort food and stock shelves, which will later be distributed to Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax and Prince William. Immediately following the project, volunteers can attend a lunch sponsored by George Mason’s Office of Advancement and Alumni Relations. Interested volunteers can register on Eventbrite. // NOVA Capital Area Food Bank: 6833 Hill Park Drive, Lorton

Place Wreaths at the Arlington National Cemetery
Saturday, Dec. 14, 7 to 11 a.m.
Every year, over 253,000 wreaths are placed at Arlington National Cemetery for the Wreaths Across America initiative. Thousands of volunteers are needed to ensure the project is completed across the 624 acres. Everyone, including families with young children, can simply show up on Dec. 14 to help honor the many veterans and service members who have been laid to rest in Arlington. // Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington

Volunteer Orientation for A-SPAN
Monday, Dec. 30, 6 to 7 p.m.
If you don’t seem to have a spare moment to volunteer this year between holiday festivities, events and family gatherings, set yourself up to volunteer more in 2020 by attending A-SPAN’s volunteer orientation. Not only will you learn about the organization and its efforts to prevent and end homelessness in Arlington, you will also be inspired to continue the mission in the newest decade. Plus, you’ll be ready to sign up for the next available volunteer event as soon as next year rolls around. Interested attendees can register on Eventbrite. // 2020A 14th St. N., Arlington 

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