Volunteering -- by adopting a family for the holidays -- can be one way to remember just how fortunate many of us are.
Throughout every holiday season, volunteers and organizations in Lawrence help other people in what can be their greatest time of need.
Whether it be donating a stuffed animal to a needy child or providing an entire family with a hot Christmas meal, these volunteers do their best to make sure everyone has a joyous holiday season.
Many programs in Lawrence focus on children or families as a whole.
The Toys for Tots campaign, which is in its ninth-year in Douglas County, tries to make sure that every child in the area gets at least one item from their wish-list.
Debbie Liddel, community coordinator for the program, said that every year many community organizations and companies get involved with the Toys for Tots program.
"We have a lot of people and different companies that participate in the program every year," LIddel said. "We have a lot of fraternities and sororities that get involved as well."
The goal of the Douglas County program is for each child to receive an age-appropriate gift, a small stocking stuffer, and a book. After gifts and monetary donations are collected, the gifts are turned over to the Salvation Army for distribution.
Anyone interested in volunteering for the Toys for Tots program may contact Liddel at 841-2847.
The American Red Cross is another organization that gets involved in the Lawrence area during the holidays.
Michelle Jantz, executive director for the Douglas County chapter of the American Red Cross, said her organization is involved in volunteer opportunities not only during the holidays, but year-round.
"We don't have a lot of programs that are specific to the holiday season, but we do think it's important to get involved in programs like that," Jantz said.
Jantz said the Red Cross in Lawrence sponsors a gift-wrap program in which volunteers wrap shoppers gifts in exchange for small donations that go to help the needy receive holiday dinners and gifts.
Anyone interested in the gift-wrap program may contact Jantz at 843-3550.
Out of all the volunteer organizations in Lawrence, the Salvation Army is potentially the largest and most active during the holiday season.
The organization's many events include a toy shop program, which allows needy parents to shop through a collection of donated toys for their children as if they were at a department store. They also sponsor a holiday dinner, and a coat give-away which usually kicks things off in November.
Lt. Carolyn Schultz said the Salvation Army received 100 new volunteers for the holidays last year and appreciates community members donating their time.
"Once fall begins, we start getting phone calls from people wanting to help out," Schultz said. "If you think about it, the holidays are the busiest time for everyone so it's great that they are willing to set aside their time and give back."
Anyone interested in volunteering for the Salvation Army may contact Schultz at 843-4188.