Texas Travel

December Events: Giving Back

By Abi Grise 11.30.18

End your year on a high note by volunteering, fundraising, and participating in charity events and nonprofit work across the state. From sandwich-making to costume-wearing to marathon-running, there are so many ways your family can make a difference in the lives of fellow Texans.

Central Texas

Sights & Sounds of Christmas, Nov. 28–Dec. 1, Dec. 5–8, San Marcos

Have a jolly good time bringing Christmas to life for children in San Marcos. Volunteers 14 years old and up play an enormous role in this free festival — from facilitating scavenger hunts to making cotton candy and posing for selfies as part of the costume crew. Sights & Sounds of Christmas has helped local nonprofits and charities raise more than $300,000 in revenue over the last three years. Register here.

Operation Blue Santa, Dec. 12 & 15, Austin

Help the Austin Police Department make it a blue Christmas this year by donating your time and/or presents to children in need. Bring an unwrapped gift ($10-plus) to the toy drive in exchange for a free carriage ride Dec. 12. You can also help deliver some of the thousands of presents around the city yourself on Dec. 15.

North Texas

Feed the City, Dec. 1, Prosper

Roll up your sleeves and join Prosper’s MVPs (Mothers With a Vision and a Purpose) for a morning of heroic sandwich-making. Bring lunch meats, cheeses, and healthy snacks to Chili’s to help feed hungry members of the Prosper community. Be sure to secure your hair and check the requirements for contributions here.

Team Move for Hunger at the BMW Dallas Marathon, Dec. 8–9, Dallas

Turn your miles into meals! You don’t have to be a runner to join the BMW Dallas Marathon’s race to end hunger. Sign up to fundraise for food banks across the nation for the opportunity to win free race entry, a T-shirt, and other goodies. More than 4.2 million Texans need help putting food on the table, and this is a great way to help.

South Texas

Schmeckenfest, Dec. 6, La Grange

The 11th annual Schmeckenfest will make you feel warm inside for two reasons: 1. The sampling of more than 25 different types of locally made wassail (hot cider) and 2. The opportunity to support numerous local nonprofit organizations with the purchase of delicious sweets and treats. Don’t miss this small-town festival, complete with a tree lighting, parade, music, and cookie decorating.

Community Garden Volunteers, Dec. 7, 14, 21, 28, Missouri City

Put your green thumb to work at the cleverly named Lettuce Live Urban Farm project in Buffalo Run Park. You can tend, mulch, and weed 25 raised garden beds, maintain the pathways, or help out in the great indoors by creating charity event flyers and completing other administrative tasks.

East Texas

Festival of Trees, Nov. 20–Jan. 7, Lufkin

If you’re pining for a way to support artistic endeavors this season, come to the Festival of Trees at the Museum of East Texas. Peruse more than 150 uniquely decorated trees crafted by generous sponsors and friends of the museum. Funds are used to sponsor Art Camp scholarships and day-to-day operations. Snap a photo or two while you walk.

Admission is free. But if you’re feeling particularly crafty, sign up individually or as a family for $50 to decorate your own 3-foot-tall tree for display!

Santa Hustle Galveston Half Marathon & 5K, Dec. 16, Galveston

Get on the nice list this season by volunteering for a fun run at the magical Moody Gardens. The Santa Hustle benefits the Galveston County Food Bank and Toys for Tots — so bring a toy to spread the cheer! Volunteers get an elf shirt and hat, food, drinks, and a good word put in with the man in the red suit.

West Texas

Lone Star Sanctuary for Animals Volunteer Orientation, Dec. 1, Midland

End the year on an “awe” note by signing up to care for creatures big and small at the Lone Star Sanctuary for Animals. Once a month, this no-kill shelter hosts 45-minute orientation sessions for volunteers to learn the proper way to exercise, clean, and care for the many pups and kitties looking for forever homes.

Wreaths Across America, Dec. 15, Amarillo

Every year, Wreaths Across America places more than 700,000 wreaths on the graves of veterans at more than 900 gravesites, including Llano Cemetery. Purchase a wreath for $15 and/or join local Civil Air Patrol cadets, veterans’ organizations, community volunteers, and cemetery staff to honor fallen soldiers in person in the Field of Valor at Llano East.

For more holiday cheer, check out our Christmas cookie list or take this volunteer quiz.

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