9 million people will volunteer this festive season

Christmas is a time of goodwill and giving back, so why not put the magic back into someone's Christmas this year by giving your time?

Many small groups, charities and organisations in Merton need a little extra help during the festivities and rely on a legion of brilliant volunteers to help feed the homeless, collect money at carol concerts or visit an older person who's facing spending Christmas alone.

Here are some top tips and opportunities to give the gift of time:

Volunteer at a food bank
Food banks provide an essential lifeline for families living in poverty all year round, but especially at Christmas. Wimbledon Food Bank has a number of opportunities on its website, including the option of giving a supermarket gift card to allow a family to buy the makings for a Christmas dinner or a reverse advent calendar - so instead of opening a door each day and taking something out, you begin with an empty box and every day you put something in.

Raise money and wrap gifts
For all those gift wrapping lovers out there, this could be the opportunity for you. Wimbledon Guild is looking for volunteers from Monday 16th December to Friday 20th December to wrap Christmas gifts. For a small donation, busy shoppers can have their gifts wrapped while at the same time supporting a local charity. The great thing about this one is you can offer 1 or 2 hours or do it all day if you can. Sign up as an individual or a group of colleagues, friends or family to make it even more fun.

Volunteer at a Christmas lunch
Age UK Merton support the older community in Merton and are always looking for help. If you have any spare time, like spending time with older people and want to support a great cause then they would love to hear from you. Take a look at some opportunities here

Gift a Refuge Parcel
Refuge provides women and children escaping domestic violence a safe place to stay. Often women will leave with just the clothes they have on their back. For just £10, you can buy a family an 'emergency parcel' containing toiletries, food, nappies, children's clothing and a change of clothes for mum. 

Volunteer for a local good cause
There are so many small charities looking for reliable, friendly volunteers over Christmas and throughout the year. Search the VolunteerMerton website for the latest opportunities near you.

Christmas cheer for every child
Donate a gift to ensure every Merton child receives a Christmas present. Gifts suitable for children aged one week to 18-years-old can be donated to the Met Police’s Christmas Tree Campaign. Visit the website to be allocated a child to buy a present for, which can then be dropped off at either Mitcham or Wimbledon Police stations. Donors are advised to spend up to £10 per gift. Find out more www.met.police.uk/christmastree

Haven't quite found the right opportunity for you? Keep coming back to this – we will update it as new opportunities come through.