Another holiday season is upon us with all of its gift giving, celebrations and time with family as well as friends. Many of the lessons of the season revolve around giving to your neighbor, so as we enjoy the customary traditions, thought should be given to those less fortunate. From military service members far from home to those without a place to call home, we have a way to celebrate by giving of our time on a personal level. These five best opportunities to give back represent diverse service programs, and give volunteers a self-satisfaction only to be found by helping those in need at the happiest time of year.
601 S. San Pedro St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014
From serving meals to cleaning up, and from professional services to internships, there is no shortage of opportunities to help at the Midnight Mission. This well-known organization serves thousands of homeless every day with job training, hygiene, shelter, medical care and more. During the holidays, special events offer a unique chance to truly give back. The homeless at the Mission are a diverse group of men, most often faultless for their predicament, who need a respite as they work towards a better future. Every volunteer comes away a better person. To learn more about how you can give back, visit www.midnightmission.com for more information.
1228 15th St., Suite C
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Once Voice serves the poor of the Los Angeles metropolitan area by bringing cheer and hope to those families most in need. Its annual Holiday Food Program distributes food, books and toys to more than 2,000 families. To accomplish the task, thousands of volunteers come together to sort and package food, wrap gifts and prepare for the distribution from seven centers. The families are screened prior to coming to the centers to celebrate and receive the needed food and gifts as well. For more information about volunteering, visit www.onevoice-la.org.
Prison Fellowship – Angel Tree
Angel Tree is all about helping the blameless children left behind when a parent pays their debt to society. When imprisoned parents leave their children as a result of their poor choices, their absence carries a heavy burden on the family which Angel Tree tries to help. This religious-based national and local program ministers and supports these families aaaand offers many options to help. From churches to community centers, volunteers come together to give gifts and share a “personal message of love” with the children. Coordinators are especially needed to recruit help and organize the distribution of gifts. This level of commitment is all about building relationships, and with guidance from Angel Tree, every volunteer can serve according to their time and abilities. For more information on volunteering, visit www.prisonfellowship.org.
Downtown Women’s Center
442 S. San Pedro St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Serving the Southland’s poorest women with permanent housing and social service, the Downtown Women’s Center is a safe place to call home. Helping to lessen the burden on public programs, the program help women live lives of dignity and since 1978, the center has grown to become one of the largest supportive housing facilities for women in the country. Currently, it serves 120 formally homeless individuals and has a 95 percent track record of residents who never return to being homeless. In addition, the Center was awarded California’s Nonprofit of the Year for 2013 receiving the Governor’s Volunteer and Service Award as well for its ability to engage community volunteers in ending homelessness for women. The organization eagerly accepts volunteers for special holiday events, so if you are interested in volunteering, visit the website or email www.dwcweb.org.
Bob Hope USO LAX Center
Terminal 2 (Next to the Theme Building)
203 World Way
Los Angeles, CA 90045
The USO has helped and entertained our armed forces for decades, and the Bob Hope legacy continues at the Los Angeles International Airport. Service members are especially lonely during the holidays as they return from duty or transit to new assignments. Volunteers at the Center greet and welcome those who are prepared to put their lives at risk for our freedom and their goal is to increase service members’ quality of life, boost their morale and be a link to the world they defend. The holiday season is an excellent chance to learn about our service members as you serve those who serve us so well. Visit www.bobhopeuso.org for a volunteer application.
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