The holiday season is upon us.

All around us we see community events, decorated homes and people who are a little kinder to each other. We are very aware of the need around us, but need doesn’t always mean the material things.

Much of the time it means connection and a sense of belonging. Depression, exacerbated by this time of year, is very common for older adults for several reasons. But rather than focusing on the clinical discussion and the root causes, we can look at what we can do now to make this time of year a little more cheerful for our older neighbors and family members.

There are lots of little and big ways you can make an impact. Volunteering is always the easiest place to start. Meals on Wheels is always looking for volunteers to deliver meals. Nutrition is only half of the mission: Visiting, talking to and connecting with the person is really the goal. Who knows? You may have so much fun you will continue to volunteer all year long. Meals on Wheels also does a blanket drive and a pet food drive during the holiday season. Find out more by visiting www.facebook.com/MOWNEPA.

Nursing homes and other facilities welcome school groups and others to visit with their residents and deliver some holiday cheer. COVID-19 has changed the rules for some of the facilities, but they still welcome gifts, visitors, holiday cards and little messages from children. It is never too early —and it’s a great time of year — to teach through the example of giving back.

One of the best examples I can highlight this year is the gift the students from the Abington Heights School District and Constantino’s Catering has provided to the Hillside Health Aging Campus, formerly the Abington Senior Center. Our annual holiday gathering will be put on by the students, thanks to the efforts of Jessica Ferretti and Lauren Fitzgerald. They will coordinate entertainment, games and other fun activities. They will also help serve up the meal generously donated by Constantino’s Catering. We know there are other districts doing similar events in the area and we are very grateful for it.

If you want to do “something” and your busy life just doesn’t allow you to do a lot of volunteering, you can still make a difference. Home heath agencies do gift drives for the people they serve. All you need to do is reach out to any of them and find out how you can participate.

The Community Intervention Center operates a day shelter visited by many of our older adults. Coffee supplies and COLTS bus passes for those 60-64 years old are always in short supply there. We should stop and think that a cup of coffee and bus ride from somewhere like Old Forge to Carbondale might just make someone’s holiday because they saw a friend or family member they can’t always visit easily. Learn more by visiting www.communityinterventioncenter.net.

Serving Seniors has many volunteer opportunities that range from visiting facilities to sending cards. Their programing has been a holiday tradition for many years. Visit their website, servingseniorsnepa.org, to learn more.

Here at the Area Agency on Aging, you can contribute in a few ways. You can volunteer to help distribute emergency food boxes. A donation to our Pepper’s Project, our pet program, helps us buy food, veterinary services, grooming services and other necessities for the pets of those we serve. You can sponsor an older adult by calling us at 570-963-6711, extension 1455. Leave us a message with your information and we will help connect someone to you.

Unlike many of the human services agencies, the Area Agency on Aging can take donations. Our donations help us provide activities and meals at senior centers, free transportation, home-delivered meals, utility assistance and help with items not covered under health care plans or other social service agencies.

Small acts of kindness always go very far. Shovel the walks, dig out a car, carry out the trash or just take some time to talk to a neighbor. Whatever you do will be remembered and appreciated. Have happy and safe holiday season.

Jason Kavulich is the director of Lackawanna County’s Area Agency on Aging. For more information on services available call 570-963-6740.