Holiday volunteer shortage: East Texas nonprofits looking to fill volunteer positions

Local News

TYLER, Texas (KETK)- Thanksgiving Week is here and while we often think about what we have to be thankful for, it’s also a great time to give back to others as well.

The Hiway 80 Rescue Mission extended its reach into Tyler with the Gateway to Hope.

They said they anticipate seeing a spike in need this Holiday season.

“You’ve got people that lost their jobs during the pandemic, you’ve got the whole eviction moratorium that was going on during the pandemic that has now been lifted,” said Brian Livingston, Executive Director of Hiway 80 Rescue Mission.”So, you’ve got people who are months and months behind on rent that could be evicted.”

The current economy has also impacted those families and individuals even more.

“There’s definitely still the potential for people, even if they survived the pandemic- to end up losing housing or not having enough food or being able to provide Christmas presents for their kids,” said Livingston.

Hiway 80 Rescue Mission has been looking for more volunteer workers to help keep things running.

When people volunteer, they help keep people off the streets and ensure another East Texan is warm and safe during the Holiday season.

Livingston said the biggest thing their nonprofit needs are volunteers to come in and help put care packages together.

“And for our Christmas Giveaway coming up, we have to sort those gifts. We have hundreds and hundreds of gifts we have to sort out and put them in age-appropriate categories and each family gets their own bag,” said Livingston.

The Salvation Army is also in need of volunteers as they raise funds through The Red Kettle Campaign.

“We desperately need volunteers,” said Cindy Bell, Director of Development at Salvation Army in Tyler.

With 43 locations, Salvation Army has a total of 12,000 hours to fill.

“You can imagine the need we have to get volunteers out there. Even if it’s just a 2-hour shift or put together a group that can take the full day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.,”  Bell stated. “Those that are ringing- they are ringing for hope. The funds that we raise at the kettle help sustain our organization throughout the year so that we can provide those things that people need. Clothing, shelter, food, and prescription assistance.”

Bell shared that many families have made beautiful traditions of ringing the bell, even some who have rung for generations.

Those who want to volunteer for Salvation Army and or Hiway 80 Rescue Mission can do so by doing the following.

Those who want to volunteer to ring can register at or call (903) 592-4361

For those who want to volunteer for the Hiway 80 Rescue Mission, they can visit the administration office at 3123 W. Marshall Ave. in Longview. They can also visit to apply. They can also call (903) 759-8101 to call to apply, get vetted and assigned.

On Wednesday, Hiway 80 Rescue Mission will also help host Thanksgiving Meals for anyone in need.

The meals will be given at the following times:

  • Longview-Men’s Shelter-3117 W. Marshall Avenue-Noon
  • Longview Women’s and Family Shelter-3004 W. Marshall Avenue-Noon
  • Tyler- West Erwin Benevolence Center-215 S. Bonner Ave.-Noon (Take out dinners only)

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