Volunteer Opportunities to Make Holidays Brighter

Salvation Army bell ringer Scott Brandhorse watches Anthony

In the holiday spirit of showing goodwill toward others, here
are places you can volunteer this holiday season and ideas on how
you can help those in need:
In the holiday spirit of showing goodwill toward others, here are places you can volunteer this holiday season and ideas on how you can help those in need:

San Benito County/Hollister

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army needs volunteer bell ringers to collect money in front of local businesses. The more volunteers ringing bells, the more money the Salvation Army receives to help local communities, said Joel Garcia, the bell-ringer coordinator in Hollister. The money stays in the county and purchases toys, food and blankets. Bell ringing schedules can be adjusted to suit volunteers’ schedules.

Info: (831) 636-5612. The Salvation Army Office is located at 10 Buena Vista Road.

The Second Harvest Food Bank

The Second Harvest Food Bank serves San Benito and Santa Cruz counties, feeding 44,000 individuals every month. During the holidays, people can leave nonperishable food donations at drop-off points at local libraries and grocery stores. Local business or organizations also can arrange to hold food drives.

Nob Hill Foods and Albertsons in Hollister are running special promotions on premade bags of food donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank. The bags are going for half-price for $9.

Info: Christine Woodard at (831) 722-7110, ext. 217, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.thefoodbank.org.

The Community Pantry

The Community Pantry needs help handing out the 500 to 800 bags of food the organization regularly distributes, as well as special holiday bags of food. The Pantry is in need of traditional holiday food items such as turkeys, chickens and hams for distribution on Dec. 21. Drop off the items at 30-B Airport Road.

Info: (831) 637-0340

The Red Cross

The local Red Cross chapter needs funds for local disaster relief. The branch has responded to four fires in the last month alone, and additional money is needed for more local relief. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will also host a blood drive Dec. 1 for the Red Cross at 1670 Cienega Road.

Gilroy

St. Joseph’s Family Center

St. Joseph’s Family Center provides food for homeless people and very low-income families in the South Valley year-round. The organization’s outreach program, The Lord’s Table, is one of the only hot-meal programs without restrictions. All low-income families and homeless people are welcome. The center also needs volunteers to distribute holiday food basket and wrap gifts that will be distributed to local children younger than 10. The center, located at 7950 Church St., also will hold a new-and-used-book drive.

Info: (408) 842-6662

Members of Congregation Emeth

Members of Congregation Emeth, a local Jewish Synagogue, will serve a traditional Christmas meal Dec. 25 at First Baptist Church, 855 Wren Ave. More volunteers are needed.

The Gilroy Salvation Army

The Gilroy Salvation Army needs volunteer bell ringers to collect money in front of local businesses. Volunteers also are needed to help distribute food Dec. 23. Items such as turkeys, nonperishable side dishes and chickens are needed, as are toys. About 250 families were expected to need assistance, but more than 300 families have signed up to receive the food baskets, said Captain Robert Viquez. The Mexican consulate will also be on hand Dec. 23 to help immigrant families prepare paperwork to obtain valid California IDs.

Info: (408) 848-5373, or drop off donations at 200 5th St.

Rebekah Children’s Services

Rebekah Children’s Services serves children ages 0 to 18 with emotional, behavioral and mental health needs. The organization needs donations of gift cards to various retail stores such as Target, Mervyn’s, Ross, Toys ‘R’ Us, Wal-Mart and Best Buy.

Info: (408) 846-2140, or drop off donations at 290 IOOF Ave.

Morgan Hill and San Martin

The Giving Tree

Be someone’s star in The Giving Tree program at St. Catherine’s Catholic Church. Stars will adorn large Christmas trees inside the church. Take one of the stars and read the information listed on the star. The information includes the age, gender and clothing size of someone in need and possibly a specific kind of toy such as a doll, board game or book. Purchase a gift for the person your star represents, wrap it and secure the star to the package. Then return the gift to the church to make someone’s Christmas morning extra special.

The church also needs volunteers Dec. 18, when the gifts will be sorted for distribution.

Info: (408) 779-3959 or www.stca.org. The church is located at 1700 Peak Ave.

The Dream Power Horsemanship Foundation

The Dream Power Horsemanship Foundation serves children and adults with mental, emotional and behavioral problems. The foundation uses horses as a part of the counciling. They need donations for Christmas gift bags, including new or used books in good condition, as well as gloves, socks, hot chocolate, hot cider packets and decaf hot tea. The foundation also needs horse-related items such as notebooks, stickers, socks, pencils, etc.

Info: (408) 686-0535 Drop off donations at 124425 Foothill Ave. in San Martin.

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