Volunteering drops when the holidays end

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The ringing of the red Salvation Army kettle bells may have gone silent, but the need these containers represent stretches far past the holiday season.

"Our needs change weekly, sometime monthly. We are also the disaster relief," said Salvation Army Development Director LaGuardia Collins.

Across town, a long line waited for a hot meal in the kitchen of St. Vincent de Paul.  On Christmas Day, around 150 volunteers turned out to help serve.   The day after Christmas, only 10 volunteers helped pass out nearly 600 meals.

"365 days a year we provide food.  We provide shelter 365 days a year. So, we've got a lot to do," said Michael Acaldo of St. Vincent de Paul.

Groups like the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul serve those in need year round with their various charities. The Salvation Army has a thrift store, a drug rehabilitation program and the group also provides disaster assistance.  St. Vincent de Paul has a dining room that is open every day, as well as a volunteer pharmacy and a homeless shelter.  These are just a few of many programs the groups cover.

Both groups say the holiday spirit brings in lots of volunteers, but as soon as the holly goes down the rush of volunteers wanes.

"It is a slump. We lose our school kids that are on vacation. We lose a lot of individuals that have taken off for vacation. It's a complete 75 percent drop in volunteers," said Collins of the days following Christmas.

"When midnight strikes on Christmas Day, that doesn't mean that the Christmas spirit has to die," said Acaldo.

Volunteer Joseph Ricapito says he's at the SVDP dinning room every Wednesday, holiday or not.

"There's no holiday for them. You see, poverty and misfortune and problems and things like that really have no vacation. So when Christmas is over, they're still left with some of their problems," Ricapito.

From sorting clothes at the Salvation Army Thrift Store to helping out in the kitchen of SVDP, there is a volunteer opportunity for everyone.

To volunteer, call St. Vincent de Paul at (225) 383-7837 or the Salvation Army at (225)-355-4483.

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