WALKING through King's Square on Wednesday night, I saw volunteers setting up their food kitchen for the homeless.

They are there, whatever the weather, every Wednesday and Sunday, handing out warm food cooked by volunteers – as well as donations from various food outlets in the city.

They are called the Hoping Street Kitchen and were finalists in our Community Pride Awards.

And they are just some of the many generous-hearted people who make a difference in our society.

I saw a Facebook post from a local networking group. It suggested that instead of swapping gifts in a Santa Sack-style exchange at the Christmas get-together, members donate them to a local charity or good cause.

What a great idea.

Here at The Press, we will be launching our annual Toys and Tins appeal for the Salvation Army and IDAS. Each year we are in awe of the generosity of our readers who donate food items, which the Salvation Army gives out to people in need, as well as toys and treats for women and children escaping domestic violence and living in the IDAS refuge.

This year, I have had the privilege to meet lots of ordinary people doing amazing things in our city for the good of others.

The Island is a project where adults volunteer to mentor children in the city who are facing problems at home or school and just need some space away from it all for a couple of hours a week – and someone "neutral" to listen to them, take their minds off things, and give them some support. It's a fantastic project that can really impact a young person's life by bringing them out of isolation, building their confidence and boosting their self-esteem.

York Bike Belles is another fantastic organisation with a mission to get more of us (men as well as women) cycling. They have brought an exciting new project to York, Cycling Without Age, which offers trike rides around York to residents of care homes. They have trained a group of volunteers how to operate the electric-powered trike, called Trixie, so older people – many of whom are wheelchair bound ­– can enjoy the feeling of whizzing along the road and feeling the sun on their faces and the wind in their hair. I went out with them recently and you can read my report in Tuesday's Press.

There are lots of opportunities to volunteer in York – the city council has a list of some of them on its website.

Volunteers often speak of the satisfaction they achieve through helping others. It's clearly a win-win activity.

So, if you can spare an hour or two of your time, you could make a difference to someone's life – and to your own.

And if you can't give your time, but can spare a few quid, then please donate to a good cause in the run up to Christmas.

Our Toys and Tins appeal is just one of the many deserving ones but there are plenty more, including York Foodbank which will be pulling out the stops to help people in need this festive season.