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Christmas Break Volunteering in Jamaica

Christmas Break Volunteering in Jamaica

Want to give back this Christmas by volunteering with underprivileged communities in Jamaica? International Volunteer HQ’s Christmas Break project enables volunteers to help collect donations, prepare hampers, and distribute Christmas gifts for community members who may otherwise go without. This project only runs for the week leading up to Christmas but can be combined with other volunteer projects in Jamaica for longer durations.

Highlights:
  • Only available the week of Christmas
  • Affordable fees from CA$893 for 1 week
  • Includes accommodation, continental breakfast supplies, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Help collecting donations, distributing Christmas gifts and dinner for people in need

  • Enjoy Jamaica’s laid-back vibe and fascinating culture

  • Stay in a volunteer house near James Bond Beach in St Mary

'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

Key information

Provide food to people in need
Based in St Mary
Dormitory-style volunteer house
Volunteers aged 18+ and families
Fully hosted experience from CA$893 for 1 week
Set duration of 1 week
Blue Hole and other add-on tours available
Up to 4 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

Compassionate, active and foodie volunteers who want to give back and help communities in need during the Christmas period.
Who is this program suited to?

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

Due to high levels of poverty and low working wages, thousands leave Jamaica every year in search of a better life. Many family members are left behind and forgotten about.

Covid-19 has also increased unemployment and inflation with many more people jobless and facing higher food prices, making a special Christmas meal out of reach for many. This project will not solve hunger or poverty but will touch those who are often forgotten and face hardship.

Christmas is a big celebration in Jamaica and the project hopes to ensure at least all members of the community enjoy Christmas and get to connect others.

You’ll be volunteering in the local community of St Mary. Tasks can include:

  • Collecting donations
  • Preparing hampers
  • Distributing Christmas gifts
  • Distribution/serving of meals

This project runs for one week over Christmas but can be combined with other volunteer projects in Jamaica for longer durations.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #2: Zero Hunger

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #2: Zero Hunger

Current estimates show that 8.9% of the population are hungry, with the global pandemic threatening to double that number. Swift action needs to be taken to provide food and humanitarian relief, whilst agriculture and food production must become more sustainable.

Why do Christmas Break volunteering in St Mary with IVHQ?

When you do Christmas volunteering in Jamaica you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Providing social connection during Christmas - a time that can be lonely for those on the fringes of society
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Immersing yourself in the Jamaican way of life
  • Discovering the relaxed beauty of Ochos Rios
  • Bringing Christmas cheer and gifts to the community

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program and may be asked to provide additional documentation to the local team
  • All volunteers aged 13+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 13-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
  • All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
  • All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

HS
Holly Shelton
19 Feb 2024

I gained a lot of perspective on the local culture of Jamaica as a developing country. It was very enlightening to be immersed into the local culture, I definitely learned a lot of new things! Most people do not value their animals the same way we do in Canada which was very eye opening, the vet team that we worked with tried their very best to help every animal in need with the limited supplies and knowledge they had at hand. It was very inspiring to see all of their efforts!

...
AB
Alisa Brace
13 Feb 2024

Being immersed in the culture of the country and going through our days as a local was a huge piece of the experience that I will keep with me forever! I was terrified to be a solo, female traveler arriving in a country where I knew no one and didn't understand how everything worked but the team was so great that integrating into the day-to-day here was easy. You gain so much independence from doing a project like this and really allowing yourself to live like a local. This also creates a unique relationship between you and the locals. They begin to recognize you, look out for you, and are always so excited to see you during your days of volunteering. To anyone who is hesitant about going, take the leap of faith! It is a safe, and meaningful experience you will take with you for the rest of your life and you'll have so much support along the way. I was so nervous to go and almost backed out the morning of my flight but because of the positive impact this trip made, I'm already looking at which one I can apply for next!

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TS
Tiffany Scott
15 Jan 2024

What I gained, a new-found perspective on gratitude and reassurance of myself, on top of exquisite memories of a lifetime. To anyone hesitant, I recommend to just go for it because you have everything to gain and nothing to lose :D Maybe do lots of research and watch testimonials to boost up your confidence, I highly doubt you'd regret exploring for YOURSELF at some point.

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KH
Karin Hiltbrand
20 Dec 2023

What an incredible trip to Jamaica! I reflect back on it often. As a solo female traveler looking for a 30th birthday adventure, my trip could not have been more perfect. I was terrified to travel internationally alone, but I have since booked another week through IVHQ for 2024. I plan to make an IVHQ project an annual vacation - an affordable way to travel the world solo and make an impact! IVHQ does a fantastic job of making sure volunteers are prepared both before and during the adventure.

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HH
Heather Horsley
11 Jul 2023

The best part about the program was the connections I made. Connections with the students, the other volunteers and those involved with the program. We made lasting memories and more importantly, lasting friendships. I learned that I can step out of my comfort zone and try new things. I say just go for it. You won't regret it! Take the chance to learn something new about yourself, something about a new place and meet some new people.

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TB
Tamara Balyeat
09 Jan 2023

Meeting all the volunteers from different countries and and seeing the local farmers and taxi drivers was my favorite moment from my experience. it's a great way to see how other people live and it's also safe and fun. Making the meals from scratch for the people there was a great humbling experience.

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To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

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Volunteer Abroad in Jamaica with IVHQ

Location

On the world stage, Jamaica is the star of the Caribbean. Home to the Rastafarian religion and culture, reggae music and known for its sporting efforts, it also boasts dazzling beaches, plentiful wildlife and being the backdrop for many James Bond films. It has long been a popular tourist destination. But despite all of this, Jamaica has a history of slavery, unemployment and slow economic development that are still in the process of being remedied today. Volunteers are needed to provide support for people who face the challenges of living in low-income communities and to help address socioeconomic inequalities so this island nation can continue to grow and prosper.

Tucked up on the stunning north-eastern coast is the parish of St Mary where IVHQ’s Jamaica program is based. Volunteer projects are located in St Ann and St Mary, within 10 to 50 minutes from the volunteer accommodation and close to the port town of Ocho Rios, which is a resort and cruise ship harbor and has plenty of restaurants and craft markets which volunteers can explore in their free time.

Arrival and orientation

This project runs for one week over Christmas but can be combined with other volunteer projects in Jamaica for longer durations.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Sangster International Airport (MBJ) which is the closest airport to the volunteer accommodation. Airport pick up is provided on Sundays only.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and taken to the volunteer accommodation in St Mary (around 1.5 - 2 hours away). Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.

If you are traveling in Jamaica prior to your volunteer program, you will need to liaise with the local team to arrange a pick up from your location, or make your own way to the volunteer accommodation.

Orientation is provided by our Jamaica team at the volunteer accommodation. Orientation begins at 9:00 AM Monday morning and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Jamaica – an introduction to Jamaica, Jamaican customs, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Jamaica, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.

Volunteer schedule example

First day

You will be taken to your placement by a local team member and introduced to the placement staff.

Weekdays

You may have a morning or afternoon shift, or both, and can expect to work a minimum of 3 hours, Monday through Friday. Start time and daily workload depends on your chosen project. A typical daily schedule would be as follows:

7:30 AM Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.
8:00 AM Travel to placement to join local placement staff and begin work on your project.
12:00 PM Break for lunch.
1:00 PM Work at the placement commences if you have been assigned with an afternoon shift.
3:30 PM You are free to travel back to the volunteer house to relax, visit the nearby beach, go sightseeing or do some shopping.

Weekends

With weekends free, you’ll be able to explore all that St Mary, Ochos Rios and wider Jamaica have to offer, including the country’s distinctive food, music and culture.

The area is a popular destination for resorts and cruise ships, and you can expect to discover beautiful beaches, waterfalls and art galleries within close proximity of the volunteer accommodation. Snorkeling, hiking and other adventure activities are also popular with visitors to Jamaica. You can also visit notable spots like the Firefly Estate which once belonged to Sir Henry Morgan - of Captain Morgan rum fame - and then English playwright Noel Coward; or the Castleton Botanical Gardens which are among the oldest in the western world.

The team in Jamaica also have a range of tours that you can book directly with them, either before or after you arrive in Jamaica. These include but aren’t limited to a Kingston city tour where you’ll visit the Bob Marley Museum, an eco-community and a have cultural music lesson; a Black River safari on which you cruise down the Black River and see alligators, tropical birds and mangrove trees in their natural setting; and a surf camp.

Accommodation and WiFi

You’ll stay in a dormitory-style volunteer house. Living is comfortable with electricity, running water, WiFi and western bathrooms. There is no air-conditioning in the accommodation, however fans are provided.

Bedrooms have bunk beds and you can expect to share a room with one to three other volunteers of the same gender. Low pressure showers should be expected and the water is usually not heated. You should bring your own toiletries and towels.

Meals

A basic daily breakfast of toast, spreads, tea and coffee is included and you’re free to help yourself to these each morning at the volunteer house.

For lunch and dinner, you can cook for yourself in the communal kitchen at the volunteer accommodation - this has a gas hob, oven, kettle, microwave, fridge, freezer and pantry space. Alternatively, you can buy lunch and dinner from nearby restaurants for between US$5 (approximately CA$7) and US$25 (approximately CA$36) per meal.

For volunteers who would like to have their dinners provided, a home-cooked weekly dinner plan (Monday - Friday) is available for US$79 (approximately CA$113) per week. You can book this via your MyIVHQ Checklist once you have registered for the Jamaica program. Vegetarians and vegans can be catered for, however not all diets can be covered. Please let your IVHQ Program Manager know about any dietary requirements you have before you book the dinner plan.

Tap water in Jamaica is generally safe to drink but please check with your accommodation host if you are unsure. We encourage you to bring a reusable water bottle to refill so you can avoid buying plastic water bottles.

Pricing

  • USD
Duration
Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
1 week CA$893 Equivalent to CA$128/day
  • Accommodation
  • Continental Breakfast supplies
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Airport pick-up
  • Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on travel and tour add-ons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately CA$473) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in CAD.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Please note due to additional resources for this project this would have a surcharge of US$95 (which goes directly to the Christmas gifts and other items distributed).

Free-time experiences & tours in Jamaica

Take your volunteer experience to the next level with IVHQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in Jamaica! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto the IVHQ Jamaica program.

Blue Hole Excursion
Blue Hole Excursion

Spend an afternoon cliff jumping and swimming in a natural series of waterfalls and swimming holes.

CA$73
Green Grotto Caves & Luminous Lagoon Excursion
Green Grotto Caves & Luminous Lagoon Excursion

Tour to the historical caves of Green Grotto, once home to the first inhabitants of the island.

CA$155
Jamaican Cooking Class
Jamaican Cooking Class

Learn to prepare Jamaican dishes from a local expert in this 2.5 hour cooking class.

CA$36
Blue Hole Excursion
Blue Hole Excursion

Spend an afternoon cliff jumping and swimming in a natural series of waterfalls and swimming holes.

CA$73
Green Grotto Caves & Luminous Lagoon Excursion
Green Grotto Caves & Luminous Lagoon Excursion

Tour to the historical caves of Green Grotto, once home to the first inhabitants of the island.

CA$155
Jamaican Cooking Class
Jamaican Cooking Class

Learn to prepare Jamaican dishes from a local expert in this 2.5 hour cooking class.

CA$36

Check what's required to visit Jamaica

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Capital Kingston
Population 2.9 million
Languages English
Currency Jamaican Dollar (JMD)
Time zone UTC-5:00

Weather and climate

The climate in Jamaica is typical of a Caribbean climate - warm days year-round with rainy winters and dry summers. The pleasant Jamaican climate makes travel possible at any time of the year. The rainy season is generally from May to November. Average temperatures in Jamaica range between 70°F and 80°F (21°C to 28°C), with July and August being the hottest months and February the coolest.

Other projects you may be interested in

How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
Meet your personal volunteer travel expert
Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
Get ready to volunteer abroad, we’ll support you every step of the way!