With the holidays approaching, many families consider opportunities to not only teach the spirit of giving but also for ways that might allow them to give back to their communities. Volunteering costs nothing but a small amount of time and is often the most fulfilling gift that can be given. These opportunities also exist throughout the year, but serve as a great way to spend time with the family as well as spread holiday cheer to those who may not otherwise experience it.

When searching for opportunities that are family friendly, it is important to consider local food shelves, churches and hospitals but also make sure to check ahead and ask about age requirements for children. There are a number of volunteer opportunities during the holidays. Here are five of the best holiday volunteer opportunities in Minnesota that welcome the entire family.

(credit: People Serving People)

People Serving People
614 3rd St. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55415
(612) 332-4500
www.peopleservingpeople.orgPeople Serving People has been assisting homeless adults and children since 1982 with emergency shelter and services that assist them in getting back on their feet. There are numerous volunteer opportunities available throughout the year which include tutoring, serving meals and providing childcare. During the holidays, volunteers are needed for holiday gift wrapping, toy shop set up and gift delivery. Holiday Helper opportunities are available for children at least 12 years of age and older when accompanied by an adult.

Related: Seasons of Hope: Find Ways to Give

Gift Wrapping at Lyngblomsten
Lyngblomsten Care Center
1415 Almond Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55108
(651) 646-2941

Senior centers almost always welcome volunteers, especially during the holidays. Lyngblomsten is one organization that provides housing facilities and healthcare to seniors of all faiths. Volunteers of all ages are invited on Dec. 13, 2012 to help wrap gifts purchased through the Spirit of Giving program for the over 400 residents of the facility. There are also a number of volunteer opportunities for youth ages 10 and older through the youth volunteer program with other activities throughout the year.

(credit: Emergency Foodshelf Network)

Emergency Foodshelf Network
8501 54th Ave. N.
New Hope, MN 55428
(763) 450-3860
www.emergencyfoodshelf.orgFood shelves across the state are always in need of not only donations but also volunteers for a number of jobs and duties. The Emergency Foodshelf Network welcomes families and volunteers of all ages to assist during the holidays with events such as Baskets of Hope. The Baskets of Hope program provides turkey or ham, sweet potatoes, canned fruit, corn and everything else needed for a family of eight to enjoy a holiday meal. Volunteers are needed to help sort donated food and pack specialty boxes.

The Salvation Army
2445 Prior Ave. N.
Roseville, MN 55113
(651) 746-3400

The Salvation Army is well known for its bell ringers during the holidays but also welcomes volunteers of all ages in a number of areas. These opportunities range from coat sorting and unloading coats from trucks or vans through the Salvation Army Coats for Kids program for volunteers at least 16 years of age to Christmas decorating and serving at the Loaves and Fishes meal (for children as young as eight). Check with your local Salvation Army for the opportunities available.

(credit: Meals On Wheels)

Meals on Wheels
1200 Washington Ave. S., Suite 380
Minneapolis, MN 55415
(612) 623-3363
www.meals-on-wheels.comMeals on Wheels delivers thousands of nutritious meals throughout the year to residents of the Twin Cities and is well known for the holiday dinners it provides. Meals on Wheels also welcomes families and children to help with meals and delivery. Projects that the entire family can participate in include making holiday cards, decorating lunch bags and even taking the kids along to visit the recipients of the meals.

Related: A Guide to Thanksgiving Volunteer Opportunities

Christina Majaski is a full-time legal assistant and freelance writer for online and print publications. She has an obsession for all things related to social media and invites you to follow along with her on Twitter @cmajaski. She currently resides with her daughter in central Minnesota. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.