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Helping Hand

Nov 27, 2013 05:56AM ● Published by Style

Let your merry mood of giving help those less fortunate this season.

Without the generosity of the area’s charitable organizations, thousands of homeless families and shut-ins would face a cheerless holiday. Most of these groups need and welcome help with their holiday celebrations.
Though volunteering is meant to be selfless, most people find joy in giving. As a high school student, Janice Freeberg of Orangevale loved repairing dolls for needy girls; now she helps run several holiday charity programs. “It’s important to take care of those in our community,” she says. “That’s how we show our love for others.”

Below are some places you can offer your time or money to make someone else’s holiday brighter. If you aren’t able to volunteer with one of these groups, a search will turn up similar organizations—think local churches, hospitals and veterans’ associations—that might require holiday help.

MORE MERRY & BRIGHT IDEAS
• Contact the local United Way branch at volunteer@uwccr.org or 916-856-3983; this umbrella organization may be able to match your skills with a specific need.

• Show your appreciation for people working on Christmas Day—animal shelters, police and fire departments—by delivering your favorite holiday goodies to them.

• Contact area hospitals to see if you can make holiday cards or craft items for patients.

TOYS FOR TOTS FOUNDATION

This program, started by the Marine Corps in Los Angeles in 1947, has distributed nearly half a billion toys to needy children nationwide since its inception. You can help in several ways: Donate an new, unwrapped toy of any value to a drop location, host a Toys for Tots event at your home or business, place a free drop box at your place of business, or volunteer to pick up or sort toys. Local agencies like churches distribute the toys. All Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores are drop locations; for others, visit toysfortots.org and select your local chapter under the “Donate a Toy” tab. To sponsor a drop box or to volunteer, email kenneth.honeycutt@usmc.mil.

FOLSOM CHRISTMAS BASKET PROJECT

Folsom’s Twin Lakes Food Bank (TLFB) and the Folsom Police Department distribute toys and food for a holiday meal through their Christmas Basket Project. Donations or volunteers are warmly welcomed. For a list of drop sites and volunteer opportunities, visit twinlakesfoodbank.org. If you can provide a turkey or ham, bring it to TLFB at 327 Montrose Drive in Folsom.

POWERHOUSE MINISTRIES

This Folsom-based homeless-support organization is sponsoring a new event this year: a Christmas Mall. Instead of presenting gifts directly from anonymous donors, the donated toys and other items will be displayed warehouse-style, allowing family members to choose the gifts. Shopping day is December 7 and will include a meal and special “pampering,” such as hairstyling for adults. Volunteers are needed to serve, work the mall or donate special skills. To sign up or learn more, visit phmfolsom.org.

ESKATON

This northern California organization provides support services for thousands of senior adults in the region. At holiday time, when loneliness is felt most keenly, the agency welcomes volunteers to reach out to its clientele. You can make daily social calls to homebound seniors, donate items such as grocery store gift cards and toiletries, or visit in person (with cookies, carols, children or pets). For more information, visit eskaton.org.

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