The holiday season provides a reminder to all of us to appreciate what we have, give to others, and share the joy. We’re frequently asked for suggestions for volunteering over the holidays that require little training, can be done in a day, and are family friendly. Here is a list of a few organizations in Los Angeles that welcome volunteers over the holidays:
Hundreds of volunteers convene at 7:30AM on Thanksgiving Day to prep for and serve a feast for thousands of individuals experiencing homelessness on Fifth Street in downtown Los Angeles. This day is joyous, family friendly, and provides the opportunity to sit down and talk directly with the service recipients. Groups can also sign up to participate. Fred Jordan Missions has worked on the streets of Los Angeles and throughout the world since 1944 to help share God’s love by providing nourishing food, warm clothing, blankets and other vital services to people in need. Please note, that this organization is faith-based and the event includes faith-based services that are open to all.
For a more intimate experience, volunteers in Los Angeles will provide food, sleeping bags, bus tokens, and food gift cards to approximately 300 individuals through Food on Foot. The cost of this volunteer opportunity is $125 per individual, which goes directly to the work of Food on Foot, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting the poor and homeless of Los Angeles through programs that provide nutritious meals, clothing, work opportunities and ultimately the transition to full-time employment and life off the streets. This organization doesn’t accept government funding so private support is critical.
Over 2,000 volunteers participate over four days in December to prep for the distribution of Christmas food baskets, toys, and books to 2,500 families (12,500 people) living in poverty in the Los Angeles area. All of the families are referred through the Head Start Program and meet federal and state mandated poverty levels. The most child-friendly days are the packaging days, when volunteers sort and box food, and they require adult supervision per 2-3 children. The mission of One Voice is to provide goods, services and opportunities to the underprivileged, including everything from crisis intervention to long-term programming that lifts families out of poverty, while providing avenues for the rest of the community to become involved in helping families in need.
The Giving Spirit provides aid to vulnerable and fragile lives by assembling and personally distributing survival kits to the children, women and families living on the streets of Los Angeles. They will host their Winter Outreach program from December 13th through the 16th. Individuals can volunteer to assemble life-saving kits with over 60 essential items for our homeless neighbors as well as the opportunity to volunteer to distribute the survival kits directly to homeless individuals and to our partner agencies, a moving, life-altering experience for all involved. Their website features several different shifts, some of which are specifically highlighted as adults-preferred, and others that welcome all ages. This is a group and family friendly volunteer experience.
Last year, over 650 generous sponsors provided 949 CalWORKs families gifts during the holiday season. Any one can volunteer to sponsor a family and they are provided with their ‘adoptee’s’ contact information and their wish list. Individuals can select the family size they wish to sponsor, from 2 family members to 9+ family members and can also decide if they want to deliver the gifts directly to the families. This opportunity is great for workplace groups.
There are more people becoming homeless for the first time now than any time in Los Angeles’ history. Los Angeles Mission is on the front lines of providing meals, hot showers, safe shelter and other life-giving support to people in need. Their annual Thanksgiving celebration serves over 3,000 pounds of turkey, over 1,400 blankets, and over 1,200 tarps in preparation for the colder winter months to neighbors experiencing homelessness. Their annual Christmas dinner is quite large, feeding over 5,000 people with lines around the block. Meals, toys, shoes, and health care are provided. Please note, that this is a faith-based organization and religious services and items are also part of the distribution.
FYI, we recently shared an article against volunteering over the holidays in support of volunteering at other times of the year when the need is equally as great but the interest in volunteering isn’t. You can read it here. Perhaps it will inspire you to volunteer over the holidays and again throughout the year during the organization’s low season.
Did you register to volunteer at one of these organizations? Do you know of a nonprofit that needs volunteers that should be added to this list? Let us know @StarfishMarta. We would love to help spread the word!
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