‘Tis the season for giving, but not all presents come in bow-wrapped packages. You can be a gift to people in the community by volunteering your time. There’s such a variety of volunteer needs around town that you’re sure to find your niche, whether you’re a nail artist or noodle maker.
Covering a wide array of talents, you’ll find your fit from a plethora of volunteer opportunities. To help you out on this do-good endeavor, I’ve compiled a list of places you can contribute your time and talents to.
So do something truly special this season, and get ready to make someone’s holiday a little brighter.
Serving over 1,600 meals a day, the Poverello House feeds the homeless every day of the year, three times a day. From food prep to gardening, there are lots of ways you can serve. The next volunteer orientation is Saturday, Nov. 18, so sign up soon. If you’re interested in helping on Christmas Day, there’s a sign-up list for that which opens on the first Monday of December. For more information, contact Poverello House at (559) 498-6988 or check out their website here.
Ronald McDonald House
An organization that provides a place for families to stay while their children are in the hospital, the Ronald McDonald House Central Valley, on the campus of Valley Children’s Hospital, is a great place to help. The volunteer opportunities here are vast, from Spa Day volunteers to Paint Nite helpers. Of course, you can go the more traditional route and serve a meal with Meals from the Heart, or you can volunteer for light cleaning duties. To find out more, click here.
Valley Children’s Hospital
Speaking of Valley Children’s Hospital, there are opportunities to volunteer there, as well. Most volunteer positions involve interacting with patients, such as reading books and even rocking babies. If this appeals to you, check out the current list of volunteer opportunities here.
Habitat for Humanity
An organization that helps people build their own affordable housing, there’s opportunities beyond a hammer here. Of course there’s the construction aspect, but you can also volunteer to help in their retail space, Project ReStore. Full of building supplies, furniture, and appliances, you can help people find building materials and more at discounted prices. For more information about volunteer opportunities from Habitat for Humanity, click here.
Literacy at the Library
Here’s your chance to make your literary habits count. Your local library has volunteer opportunities ranging from homework helper to adult literacy tutor. Some training is involved and you must be 18 to help out, but this is a great opportunity to help others achieve their goals. For more information about volunteering at your local library, call Elizabeth Finkle, Volunteer Coordinator, at (559) 600-9230 or click here for more information.
American Cancer Society
If you want to join the fight against cancer, here are some opportunities. You can volunteer with the American Cancer Society and do helpful things like drive cancer patients to their treatment. In this case, you’re really saving a life with a tank of gas and a little time. Of course, even without a car you can make a difference. A wide variety of volunteers are needed, from fundraising to using social media to get the word out as a virtual volunteer. To find the right area of service for you and to sign up, click here.
Valley Animal Shelter
Whether you’re a cat person or a dog person, either one works! You can volunteer your time at your local animal shelter and get your pet fix while doing a good deed. The Valley Animal Shelter is an organization that is always looking for a friendly face to socialize with the animals. There are also opportunities to foster and get the word out about animal rescue. To volunteer you must attend an orientation, and don’t be late because seats fill fast. The next orientation is Saturday, Dec. 9 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Of course, with over 400 different fur friends available for adoption, you might even find a new best friend this Christmas. For more information, call (559) 233-8690 or visit their website here.
Community Food Bank
Help bring food to valley residents by volunteering with the Community Food Bank. You can donate food, and you can also host a food drive or raise funds. Because of a great working relationship with local farmers, money raised goes a long way—a dollar can buy ten pounds of produce! This is a great way to help neighbors in need. For more information, visit their website here.
Every Neighborhood Partnership
Invest in local schools by volunteering with Every Neighborhood Partnership. This organization connects you to local schools in 32 neighborhoods. You can volunteer for sports and games on Saturdays, or mentor a child in a classroom. This is a great way to invest in the future and hang out with awesome kids. For more information and to fill out an application, click here.
American Red Cross
Volunteers make up 90% of the humanitarian work done by the Red Cross. As a volunteer, you need to complete an application and training and do at least 20 hours of volunteer work a year. You can be part of the organization founded to help during disasters. With wildfires and hurricanes, there’s no shortage of opportunities to make a difference. If you want to see what opportunities are available, click here and enter your zip code. You can also visit their website to find a blood drive and donate blood, or give a donation.
Volunteer with the elderly, weigh coffee beans, and more
As long as this list is, it’s not exhaustive. For example, there are a lot of nursing homes in town, and many of them welcome volunteers. If you want to spread good cheer with residents, you can always call your nearest one, or you can link up with volunteer organizations such as GAP Ministries and HandsOn Central California. These organizations help connect people who want to volunteer with places that have needs. For more information and to be connected with a group in need, you can call Gap Ministries at (559) 222-6992 or visit HandsOn Central California’s website here.
Finally, you can check out Serve Fresno for an extensive list of local companies and organizations that are looking for volunteers, such as Lanna Cafe and City Without Orphans. You can search by projects or organizations. For more info, contact them at (559) 400-7310, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website here.
With so many opportunities to help out this holiday season, it’s easy to make volunteering your new tradition. If you have a favorite holiday volunteer activity that hasn’t been covered here, share it in the comments!
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