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10 Ways to Make a Difference in Richmond This Holiday


These ideas were compiled from a variety of sources, including, and For additional ideas on ways local charities could use your help this holiday season and beyond, visit their sites.

1. Around the Table

The Giving Heart’s Community Thanksgiving Feast on Thursday at the Greater Richmond Convention Center is a sit-down, Thanksgiving meal — free and welcoming to all. See how you can volunteer (page 38) or simply attend and enjoy. Your company, conversation and good cheer are all that’s required.

2. Parade of Good Will

A variety of charities provide a special experience to disadvantaged children during the annual Christmas parade. In addition to watching the parade, some 200 children receive breakfast, lunch and time with Santa. They’re in need of school supplies, gloves and hats, tickets and more to distribute in goodie bags by Nov. 28. Contact Tera Barry at

  • Arthritis Foundation

3. Jingle Bell Run

This holiday-themed 5-K for the Arthritis Foundation gets going at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at Mary Munford Elementary School. Sweat for a good cause. And if you aren’t up for the run itself, volunteers are needed to help behind the scenes. Contact Caitlin Roberts at

4. Happy Wheels

Take on some shifts keeping the Happy Wheels cart on its route around the Children’s Pavilion, in a partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities and Virginia Commonwealth University Health. You’ll help provide activities to families who are waiting while they’re critically ill children are being cared for. and

5. Baskets of Cheer

Family Lifeline is looking for people who can help create and deliver baskets of cheer to seniors and people with disabilities, who may be feeling alone during the holidays. Baskets include books, refreshments and household items. To help, contact Rebecca Butler at

6. Senior Celebration

Have a game night with the residents of Westminster Canterbury living in the independent, assisted, nursing and memory care programs. Along with playing bingo, cards and other games, any one-on-one time is appreciated.

  • Scott Elmquist

7. Bikes of Hope

Reachcycles and I Am RVA hope to give bikes and helmets to 18 children with disabilities. Bikes are custom-made for the child’s disability, and you can buy a child one of I Am RVA’s specially designed chrome helmets — whose sales benefit four other Richmond charities — for $20 by clicking the Products menu tab at They’ll be given the gifts at a party Dec. 11. Other helmets bought at the site raise money for Sportable, Friends of the James River Park System, Greater Richmond SCAN and the Brain Injury Association of Virginia.

8. Food and Fellowship

Virginia Supportive Housing is looking for people, families or teams who can bring healthy potluck dishes for its meal-sharing program. The nonprofit works to end homelessness through housing and support services. You’ll also help with kitchen prep, serving and be a source of good company and conversation.

9. Uncovering History

Richmond’s historic black burial ground, the East End Cemetery, became overgrown through the years until a small group of volunteers began to work wonders in 2013. The small spaces and gravestones prevent the use of heavy equipment, so volunteers are needed for clearing and cleanup. In addition to helping with historic preservation, the Friends of East End Cemetery notes that volunteer efforts have led to people finding long-lost gravesites of their loved ones.

10. It All Adds Up

Once the celebrations die down from New Year’s Eve, tax season isn’t far behind. But not everyone has the resources to prepare. If you’re good with numbers, the United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg says it needs volunteers for its Metrocash program, which helps people with low to moderate income get their returns ready.

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