It's holiday season once again ' and it seems to be here sooner than ever. In this busy world we live in, we all should look for opportunities to find meaningful ways to give back. Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day are some of the busiest days of the year for volunteering and for charities with holiday programs. With immeasurable generosity and selflessness, volunteers share their time and talent to improve our community and help our community's most vulnerable residents ' the homeless, the hungry, the elderly, the uninsured, at-risk youth and the disabled.

Many other organizations throughout Acadiana including the Lafayette Community Health Care Clinic offer various opportunities for individuals, groups and families to volunteer. There's no better gift than to give together as a family unit, and studies show family volunteer experience for children leads to greater community involvement as adults. There is evidence that volunteering can improve your health. Volunteering can also boost your career options.

Giving time isn't the only way to support charities over the holiday; giving money is important too. And don't forget that you can lighten your tax burden with a philanthropic donation. Most important of all, consider creating a new holiday tradition for yourself and your family this year.

With so much interest in holiday volunteering, it's easy to overlook that nonprofits can use your help the rest of the year. Ask your agency of choice whether they need you other days of the year, too. Let us also use this time to encourage everyone to give and become a volunteer. There are many worthy causes in our community that need our help. Winston Churchill once said, "We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give."

Give today. Invest in your community. Volunteer.

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