With areas of extravagant wealth which co-exist with pockets of extreme poverty, Southern California can be a place of extremes. The holiday season often brings out a spirit of giving in many people who have the means to help, and many local charities would welcome any assistance. The following are five local charities that would love your help right now, whether you’re able to assist financially or volunteer your time and talent.
 
Anaheim Independencia Family Resource Center
The Anaheim Independencia Family Resource Center is a perfect charity to support during the holiday season because it’s all about helping families. Being with the ones you love is at the center of many holiday celebrations, and The Anaheim Independencia Family Resource Center and its sister organization, the El Moderna Center in the city of Orange, both provide resources to strengthen families and help them achieve and maintain self-sufficiency. Kids not only get homework help, but also get to participate in safe and fun after-school activities. Additionally, parents learn about available programs to help them, including food stamp outreach and healthcare services. The El Moderna Center even has counseling for families in crisis due to separation or divorce. When you support the centers, you ensure that kids and parents get the help they need to stay safe and healthy while developing self-sufficiency skills. If you can help, call Rosa Renteria, manager of the Anaheim Independencia Family Resource Center, at (714) 532-3595. To learn more about these important programs, visit their website.
 
Covenant House California
Sadly, many young adults don’t have families with whom to spend the holidays, or homes to live in. Homelessness is undoubtedly a problematic situation throughout the year, but especially at a time when most people celebrate being with their loved ones. Los Angeles’ Covenant House California has helped homeless youths in the Los Angeles and Bay areas since 1988. Over 80 percent of this charity’s funding comes from private donations, so contributions are always welcome. With the goal of providing youths between the ages of 18 and 21 a safe place to call home, Covenant House California also nurtures them toward independent living. They are given the basic necessities, like shelter and clothing, as well as counseling services, job training, medical care and referrals to other services. Perhaps most importantly, they get a dose of respect and unconditional acceptance. To help, you can find a list of ways to make a difference on the Covenant House California web page. In addition to donating money, they welcome volunteering at events, as well as mentoring youths in the Young Professionals Group. Call Noel Russell in Los Angeles at (323) 461-3131, ext. 274, for more information.
 
Boys & Girl Club of Hollywood
Many kids have a rough time during the holidays and throughout the year because they don’t get a lot of support at home. It might be because their parents are struggling to support the family or because their mothers or fathers have problems of their own. The Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood, located at 850 North Cahuenga Blvd. in Los Angeles, steps in as a positive influence for these children. The club’s mission is to “inspire and empower all young people, especially those who need us the most, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.” If you support its efforts financially or through volunteer work, you help kids do well in school, nurture their talents, and give them a better shot at doing positive things in adulthood. The club serves youngsters between the ages of six and 17, and the only cost to participants is $30 a year. To learn how to donate or volunteer, visit the Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood’s website.
 
Los Angeles Regional Food Bank
It’s hard to imagine that people go hungry in this day and age, especially during the holiday season when most people enjoy big feasts with friends and family. Supporters of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank have been grappling with the problem of hunger first-hand and strive to help people who can’t afford to put food on the table during the holidays or at other times throughout the year. One of The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank’s greatest accomplishments is being able to turn even the smallest of gifts into big help for the community. Giving out one million pounds of food each week through almost 700 partner agencies, it helps make a big difference in the community. You can help too by giving a one-time donation for the holidays, or by setting up a monthly gift to help during the months when people don’t typically think about giving to charity. The food bank also needs volunteers to distribute food. For volunteer opportunities, visit their volunteer page on the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank website. You can also make a financial gift via the donation page.
 
Second Harvest Food Bank Of Orange County
Irvine’s Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County is another great charity which makes sure that charitable organizations have enough food to feed needy people. The food bank is mainly supported by donations of goods from grocery stores, restaurants, growers, packers and other food-related businesses. They always need volunteers to help sort the food and also to grow fresh produce in Incredible Edible Park. Through its efforts, Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County has gotten over 350 million pounds of food into the hands of groups that make sure it goes to the people who need it most. You can assist this important effort in several different ways. Volunteer if you have time, or donate food or money. Details on each helping opportunity are listed on the food bank’s web page.
Article by Barbara Nefer.

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