The holidays are a time to show appreciation for the things that are important, such as friends, family and community. Several years ago, CBS Local gave suggestions on a few great places to volunteer your time during the holidays. Here are more ways to help, with a focus on the issues that are especially important to you. During the busy holiday season, it can be a challenge to get all of the family together at one time to volunteer at a charity site. If you happen to manage, families can help provide much-needed publicity, funds and supplies through yard sales, bake sales, online sharing, thrift store shopping and other off-site opportunities. Check any charity’s website for volunteer information and lists of needed supplies.
Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services
3333 Third Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95817
Volunteers are needed to sort donated clothing, bag groceries for distribution to needy families, do administrative tasks, translate documents, participate in education programs, work at events and do many other duties. As with most charitable organizations, donations are extremely important. Family members can help by making, gathering and selling items like cookies, friendship bracelets, homemade holiday ornaments or mistletoe. Soliciting businesses or individuals for donations and supplies is very helpful as well.
1321 North C. St.
Sacramento, CA 95811
Maryhouse, one of the programs offered by the nonprofit group Loaves and Fishes, provides food and daytime shelter to homeless women and children. Other LF programs provide needy men, women and children with temporary shelter, food, counseling and ways to get educated and to reenter the job market; LF even operates a school for homeless kids. Volunteers can help for a day, a month or long term both onsite and in the community.
Help AnimalsFor animal lovers, there are many ways to help during the holidays and all year round. Municipal shelters, like those operated by the City and County of Sacramento and by Folsom, Yolo or Rancho Cordova, get very little funding and staff with which to handle a very large number of animals and public safety issues. There are also private nonprofits rescuing bigger animals such as Golden Retrievers or Great Pyrenees dogs, cat-specific organizations and rescues for smaller dog breeds like Pugs. All need help with animal care, fostering, fundraising, events and adoptions.
Help the Community and the EnvironmentSoil Born Farms
2140 Chase Drive
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
Soil Born teaches people how to plant, tend to, harvest and cook with freshly grown and healthy fruits and vegetables. Produce is used to help feed the needy and is sold to raise funds. Volunteers of all ages can do hands-on planting and harvesting, and some activities culminate with volunteers receiving some of the fresh produce. Another way to help is to raise money or collect supplies. Many items are needed for the farms and kitchens, including garden tools, picnic tables, coolers, pots, pans and silverware.
Sacramento Tree Foundation
191 Lathrop Way, Suite D
Sacramento, CA 95815
Even young family members can help the community and the planet in a very demonstrable way through STF’s habitat-restoration projects. Help is needed to plant trees, collect acorns, participate in events and spread the word through social media. The family can have fun playing in the dirt for a good cause, literally planting the seeds for a better tomorrow. Short-term satisfaction is great, but kids especially love to see the tiny things they planted grow up to be big and strong, while they are doing the same.
E Waste 4 Good
1988 E. Alpine Ave.
Stockton, CA 95205
Hundreds of local charities benefit from this program, which donates cash for used electronics that are recycled. Families can collect donations of anything that needs to be plugged in, from laptops, computer mice, TVs and stereos to keyboards, cell phones, speakers and power tools. EWaste offers free pick-up for any amount of items, and you can choose for the donations to benefit specific nonprofits like the Sacramento Public Library, Wildlife Care Association, Women Escaping a Violent Environment (WEAVE), Sacramento Habitat for Humanity and many more.
Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
Her work can be found at Examiner.com.