The 12 Days of a Scout Christmas has become one of our favorite traditions on the Voice of Scouting, and we hope you will visit every day, beginning Friday, Dec 14, to find inspiring Christmas messages based on doing a good turn daily. On the eighth day of Christmas, we would like to share with you ways you can do a good turn by visiting with the elderly.

Bring Some Holiday Cheer to your Local Nursing Homes

Nursing homes don’t exactly have a reputation for being fun places to visit. But this is definitely an unfair stigma. And especially during the holidays, the time you spend there can be priceless. 

If you enjoy good conversations, playing cards, dancing, decorating, tidying up or being a shoulder to lean on, there’s a nursing home volunteer position waiting for you. Here is an idea of ways to volunteer.

  • First, always ask how you can help. Before investing money for gifts or deciding how you will help, try calling your local nursing home to consult with the activities coordinator to assess real needs. Working with the staff will help ensure that what you do has the greatest, most lasting impact, too.  There may be opportunities for you to visit with a bedridden elder after lunch, help with church services, or read the newspaper to a group of residents. Or maybe you can bring your kids or troop, dressed in their holiday finery, by the facility to sing carols.
  • Be a Santa to a Senior is a fun program that connects givers with seniors (not just nursing home residents) nationwide through giving trees at various businesses. You can look up options by your Zip Code.
  • Offer simple things. Let’s say you really want to give something tangible and you’ve cleared it with the activities coordinator. Whatever the season, the sweetest, most beloved gifts are the simplest—and usually the cheapest. Handmade cards, easy-to-peel Clementine oranges, pocket-sized tissues, gloves, and Chapstick are all appreciated. Be sure to ask if wrapped items are acceptable. 

Even if you can only visit for a small amount of time, your family or Scout troop can still bring lots of Christmas cheer. You can simply go to sing carols, hand out cookies and cards or just chat with residents — is a beautiful tradition and a great way to take your focus off the busyness, to-do lists and stuff that surround the holidays and focus on the things that really matter instead.

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Madison Austin
studies Public Relations at Brigham Young University and is a marketing specialist at the Utah National Parks Council. She is an avid hiker and enjoys being outdoors. Growing up in the mountainous regions of Colorado and Virginia enabled her to follow these passions. After moving to Utah to attend college, she has spent her time fostering both a career in Communications and a love for Utah's National Parks.

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