If you’re anything like me, you sometimes get overwhelmed and turned off by the commercialization and superficiality that seems to go hand-in-hand with the holiday season. While I love a nice Christmas gift just like anyone else, for me, Christmas is a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in the company of loved ones. Christmas trees, decorations and ornaments, huge feasts, and gifts are really just the icing on top, but they’re not the cake itself! Christmas is about the gift of giving, just as God freely gave the gift of His Son.
In an effort to not lose track of the true spirit of Christmas, I like to volunteer and share some Christmas cheer with those who are in need. The reality is that most of us are truly blessed. We have friends and family, roofs over our heads, clothes on our backs, and food in our fridges. But there are some people who will spend the Christmas holiday sleeping on the streets in the cold, rain, or snow and without any food just as they do everyday. So volunteering is a simple way that we can share some of our blessings – whether food, money, toys, or time – with those who are suffering and less fortunate.
Around the holidays, it’s usually difficult to find a list of places to volunteer here in Los Angeles with all of the pertinent details in one place. So I thought that it’d be helpful to compile a list of places to volunteer for the holidays for my fellow Angelenos and for those who’ll be visiting L.A. this holiday season.
I’m encouraging you to find out how you can best serve your community this holiday season wherever you may be in the world. Because no matter where you are, I’m sure that there’s someone there who needs you.
Passporters Food Drive – Warm Meals on Skid Row
As some of you may know, Passporters – LIVE, Don’t Merely Exist™ is an organization that I’ve been closely involved with since its founding. Since March 2011, Passporters has been sponsoring a monthly food drive for the homeless living on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. To date, Passporters volunteers have made and distributed over 5,000 brown bag lunches.
To celebrate the holiday season, this month (as they did last month), Passporters will be purchasing and distributing warm meals to the homeless.
When: Saturday, Dec. 7, 11am-2pm
Where: Fox Hills Park, 5809 Green Valley Circle, Culver City, CA 90230
How You Can Help: You can purchase a family bucket of chicken, biscuits, green beans, and/or corn from KFC. Also, feel free to bring bottled water. The goal is to prepare and distribute 40 warm meals, and if there is any extra food, it will be distributed as well. If you’d rather make a donation, feel free to do so via Paypal by clicking the Donate button.
After prepping the lunches, we will caravan to Skid Row to distribute them. The address of the Skid Row meeting point can be found via the Passporters Food Drive Facebook group page.
Contact: Join the Passporters Food Drive Facebook group here
32nd Annual Los Angeles Holiday Caroling Festivities
While I’ve never participated in this particular event, a few holiday seasons ago, Jave and I did volunteer our soulful vocals at a local senior citizen center. At first, I was a bit hesitant about caroling with the seniors, but it was actually a very fun event. We played games with the residents of the home, spent time talking with them, and ended the afternoon singing lots of Frank Sinatra Christmas carols.
Unlike my senior center holiday volunteering experience, the 32nd Annual Los Angeles Holiday Caroling Festivities is purely a caroling event. So warm up your pipes and get ready for this “caroling crawl” through some of Canoga Park’s senior care facilities.
When: Sunday, Dec. 8, 4-7:30pm
Where: You can opt to spread holiday cheer at some or all of the following locations during the following time slots…
4 – 5:15pm: West Hills Health & Rehabilitation Center (meet in main lobby), 7940 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Canoga Park, CA 91304; Ph: 818.347.3800
5:30 – 6:15pm: Topanga Terrace Subacute & Skilled Nursing Facility (meet in main lobby), 22125 Roscoe Blvd., Canoga Park, CA 91304; Ph: 818.883.7292
6:30 – 7:15pm: Meridian of West Hills (formerly Hallmark-West Hills Assisted Living), 6833 Fallbrook Ave., West Hills, CA 91307; Ph: 818.883.4123
6:30 – 7:15pm: Sunrise Senior Living of West Hills, 9012 Topanga Canyon Blvd., West Hills, 91304; Ph: 818.701.9550
6:30 – 7:15pm: Fairwinds – West Hills, 8138 Woodlake Ave., West Hills, CA 91304; Ph: 818.713.0900
*Note: A post-caroling wrap party will be held at the Home Town Buffet Restaurant from 7:30-9:30pm, 6705 Fallbrook Ave., Canoga Park, CA 91307; Ph: 818.713.1776
How You Can Help: If you’re an entertainer, musician, or a singer then come and bring some holiday cheer to some of L.A.’s senior citizen communities. No, you don’t have to be a professional entertainer or a skilled singer! Just come with your heart prepared to brighten up these seniors’ holiday spirits. Everyone of all talent levels, ages, and faiths are welcome!
Website: Click here
*Contact’s name is Vincent Leinen
Los Angeles Regional Food Bank
The L.A. Food Bank’s vision is to ensure that no one in L.A. County goes hungry, and the organization works towards this vision by mobilizing resources to fight hunger in the city’s local communities. I’ve volunteered with this organization in the recent past, and along with an army of my fellow volunteers, we were provided with a tour of the organization’s huge warehouse where donated food is stored, we watched a video to get a better understanding of the organization and its mission, and then we were put to work on an assembly line of sorts where we sorted and packaged food for distribution. This is a great organization to volunteer for during the holidays or non-holidays as the food bank subsists on the help and generosity of volunteers like you!
When: Tuesday, Dec. 24, 8:30am-noon (registration from 8-8:20am; volunteer from 8:30am-noon)
Where: 1701 E. 41st Pl., Los Angeles, CA 90058
How You Can Help: Help sort, inspect, and repackage donated food items from local food drives
Before You Go: Register by clicking here. Upon registering, you’ll receive an e-ticket and release form via e-mail. Be sure to bring your e-ticket and release form with you to the event.
Website: Click here
Project Angel Food
Project Angel Food provides meals for men, women, and children affected by HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other terminal illnesses. The organization’s staff and volunteers cook and deliver free, healthy meals to ill patients throughout Los Angeles County.
I’ve volunteered with Project Angel Food before and they run an efficient, well-oiled operation. Volunteering with Project Angel Food was one of my most enjoyable local volunteer experiences, and I look forward to helping them out again in the near future.
- You must first attend a New Volunteer Orientation. The next scheduled orientation is on Thursday, Dec. 19, 10-11:30am
- Following the New Volunteer Orientation, you can volunteer any day the kitchen is operating, Sunday – Friday, 8am-12:30pm & Monday – Friday, 1:30-3:30pm (closed on Christmas Day)
Where: 922 Vine St., Los Angeles, CA 90038
How You Can You Help: Prep, cook, and package the 1,200 meals that Project Angel Food makes daily
Website: Click here
The Midnight Mission
The Midnight Mission helps L.A.’s homeless community in many ways – from emergency services, job training, and a 12-step recovery program to education and work programs and the provision of breakfast, lunch, and dinner 365 days a year. The Midnight Mission provides 90,000 meals to L.A.’s homeless community each month! So volunteers are needed daily!!
I was going to include Christmas Eve/Christmas Day volunteer opportunities at the Midnight Mission in this roundup, but just before publishing this post, I received an email from the Community Relations Manager advising that the volunteer lists for these days are full. BUT if you want to get involved with this organization during the holidays, then consider taking part in the organization’s Toy Drive.
Whenever I volunteer on Skid Row, one of the most heartbreaking things I see are homeless children living on the streets and in shelters with their parents. So why not bring some holiday cheer to some boys and girls in need? Consider collecting toys at your job, church, or amongst your family and friends so that volunteers can pass them out on Christmas Day in The Midnight Mission’s Day Room which will be transformed into a Santa’s Village filled with toys!
If you’d like for me to forward you The Midnight Mission’s Toy Drive Toolkit which includes ideas, a poster/flyer, and a suggested toy list to kickstart your toy collection efforts, just shoot me an e-mail at email@example.com.
If you have any questions about the Toy Drive, feel free to reach out directly to the The Midnight Mission using the contact details below.
Sean Oney, Volunteer Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org (best method) or call 213.624.9258, x1242
Website: Click here