The holiday season is a great time to help those less fortunate. If you have children, it can also teach them some important lessons about charity, as well as give your family an activity to do together during this busy time of year. Last year, we suggested five great places for you to volunteer with your family in the East Bay. Here are five more worthwhile groups who need your help this holiday season across the Bay Area.
180 Howard St., Suite 100
San Francisco, CA 94105
Based in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties, Catholic Charities CYO provides social services to the elderly, low-income families and children. There are several opportunities to volunteer this holiday season at the various programs that Catholic Charities CYO runs. For example, the OMI Senior Center in San Francisco will be holding a Holiday Party on December 20 and is looking for volunteers for setting up, serving food and helping with activities. Families with children ages 15-18 are especially welcome. For more information about the various volunteer opportunities at Catholic Charities CYO, visit community.cccyo.org.
700 Ygnacio Valley Road, Suite 140
Walnut Creek, CA 94596
The Volunteer Center of the East Bay, which serves Alameda and Contra Costa counties, is holding many events this season. Some of the opportunities to volunteer include answering letters to Santa in Danville on December 10, 14, 17 and 18, helping kids create holiday gifts on December 12 at the Danville Community Center and serving as an ‘elf’ at the Elf Workshop on December 14. For more information about the dates and times of available activities, visit the Volunteer Center of the East Bay’s volunteer calendar at volunteer.truist.com.
San Jose, CA 95157
Village Harvest is a nonprofit with a unique mission: to keep the many fruit trees of the San Jose area from going to waste. Silicon Valley has the remnants of many orchards, as well as a variety of fruit trees planted for decoration, and much of that fruit goes unharvested and uneaten. Village Harvest coordinates with property owners and volunteers to harvest this fruit and donates it to local food banks and charities. Plus, volunteering to pick fruit is a great way to get some exercise and hep others. Harvest days for the holiday season will be announced in early December. For more information and requirements, visit www.villageharvest.org/events.
555 Northgate Drive, Suite 200
San Rafael, CA 94903
Volunteer Marin helps connect nonprofits in the North Bay with groups, families and individuals who are interested in volunteering. Volunteer Marin partners with several North Bay nonprofits, including the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room, local schools and after-school programs, food banks and senior centers and residences. Current opportunities for the holiday season include making holiday cards with the residents of the Cedars of Marin, making a Christmas dinner for residents of Homeward Bound of Marin and many other activities. In addition, Volunteer Marin is sponsoring a “Holiday Gifts of Love” program held from November 1 to January 20, encouraging individuals, families and groups to volunteer during the holiday season. To see what volunteer opportunities are available, visit the Opportunities Calendar at www.volunteermarin.org.
1051 Bing St.
San Carlos, CA 94070
Second Harvest Food Bank serves Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. The charity, which was founded in 1974, has been collecting unused food and making it available to those less fortunate for decades. In 2012-2013, Second Harvest gave 52 million pounds of food to low-income recipients. Second Harvest works with other nonprofits to make its services as efficient as possible. Second Harvest happily accepts donations of both food and cash, but also relies on volunteers to reduce its costs by packing food that is ready to be delivered, or by helping distribute food in the community. You can also volunteer at the Second Harvest office or host a food drive at your workplace, school or community event. Second Harvest has locations in San Jose, San Carlos and branches across Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. For days and times when you can volunteer, visit www.shfb.org.
Laura Tarwater-Scharp is a freelance writer, editor and historian. Originally from the Midwest, she has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over a decade. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.