With summertime comes more free time. While families are planning beach days, vacation road trips and summer camp, it’s also the right time to think about volunteering in the community. Los Angeles has thousands and thousands of volunteer positions open, and now more than ever, volunteers are needed, especially as fundraising numbers are down in L.A. County. From helping to provide food for needy families and cleaning up the beaches to saving an animal’s life with a belly rub and reading to young children, families of all ages are welcome to give back to the community.
3744 North Industry Ave., Suite 401
Lakewood, CA 90712
www.foodfinders.orgA non-profit rescue/food bank, Food Finders is in its 27th year servicing people in need in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. One in five Americans do not know where or when their next meal is coming from, which makes the impact of Food Finders that much more. More than 300 volunteers each year help to obtain and “rescue” fresh, unserved food from restaurants, caterers and grocery stores and deliver it to more than 200 agencies. Food Finders seek volunteers of all ages to assist with food collection and delivery, food sorting and boxing, general support in the organization’s Lakewood office, and at special events.
6111 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
bigsunday.orgConnecting people and building community since 1999, Big Sunday is driven by helping someone else, regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion, age or socio-economics. Considered as one of the best volunteer resources in the city, Big Sunday has so much going on year-round that there is always a way for people to help in big and small ways. From helping people who are looking for work via its TGIW program (Thank God It’s Work) to community service via TM@10 gathering and volunteering in the Big Sunday offices Thursdays at 10 a.m., to Big Sunday’s Youth in Action that equips civic-minded kids and families with projects. Truly there is a place for everyone to help out through Big Sunday. On top of all this, visit the Big Sunday website to view its volunteer calendar for specific dates they need volunteers. For example, making PB&J sandwiches for Covenant House, decorating cookies and cards for U.S. Vets, providing dog blankets and treats for NKLA (No Kill LA) and many other projects.
4235 Sepulveda Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90230
www.foundanimals.orgIf you want to spend your days helping at-risk dogs and cats entering shelters and facing euthanasia, Found Animals is the place for you. With the sole mission of saving pets and giving them a new “leash” on life in the Los Angeles area, Found Animals is a non-profit group that provides food, shelter, protection and cuddle time. In order to volunteer with Found Animals, you need to be at least 14 years old, commit to three months, volunteer at least eight hours a month and attend an orientation. Volunteers who work with the animals offer their assistance in helping them to socialize, giving care to kittens and cleaning kennels. Other areas that need assistance include the Found Animals Mobile Spay and Neuter Clinic, fostering animals for 3-4 week periods, and in the headquarters.
Pacoima Branch Library
13605 Van Nuys Blvd.
Pacoima, CA 91331
www.lapl.org/branches/pacoimaOne third of American children start the school year without the reading and writing skills to succeed at their grade level. Through Jumpstart, a national non-profit reading program, Pacoima Branch Public Library hosts Hooray, Library! From 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. This local reading program inspires and encourages the love of reading among children who visit this library. Families with reading age kids and teens are welcome to volunteer. Duties including reading aloud to children one-on-one or in groups, as well as participating in arts and crafts projects. Hooray, Library! is an opportunity to connect with the children in the community, gain community service credit and hours and for those interested in pursuing a future career in teaching and early education.
Heal the Bay
1444 9th St.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
www.healthebay.org/volunteer/beach-cleanupsUrban and stormwater runoff, plastic pollution and climate change and over-fishing concerns are stressing out the local marine environment. The efforts, mission and volunteers of Heal the Bay help to protect the health of the coastal and ocean ecosystem. Heal the Bay always welcomes volunteers the third Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 12 noon to clean up the coast. The meet location changes each month and it is advised to check the Heal the Bay website calendar. Upcoming beach clean-ups include Venice Beach Pier, Playa del Rey and Redondo Beach. All ages are welcome to participate as long as children are accompanied by an adult with a pre-signed liability waiver (available on website). Volunteers can gain service hours for school as well. No matter the season, sunscreen, hat and closed-toe shoes are recommended.
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Sheryl Craig is a writer with a passion for interesting finds and treasures in Los Angeles. She has a background in journalism and public relations. A mother of two daughters, Sheryl integrates her healthy lifestyle into raising her children. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.