Get in the Giving Spirit this Holiday Season

’Tis the season of generosity. Here are some ways to give of your time.

Benefiting: People experiencing homelessness

Service: Assemble and distribute 70-item survival kits to the unhoused. 

As the simplicity of its name suggests, The Giving Spirit has been providing resources to those in need since 1999. The nonprofit maintains a consistent, achievable mission: to raise money to buy and distribute items that people living on the streets need. Volunteers ensure that 95% of every donation directly supports homeless outreach. Register to volunteer online.

Benefiting: Animals 

Service: Work as a docent or help reunite lost pets with their guardians. 

 Pasadena Humane Society has been placing animals in safe homes for 117 years. Its live release rate for dogs was 92% during the pandemic and it can find volunteer opportunities for anyone over age 6, groups, and one-time visitors.

Benefiting: Youth in foster care

 Service: Become a court-appointed special advocate for foster children. 

 Working with CASA of Los Angeles is typically a long-term commitment, as volunteers are brought in so that children and teens can form bonds with a safe adult. Advocates provide crucial stability and resources for youths as they navigate the foster system.

Benefiting: LGBT community 

Service: Help put on community events at the largest LGBT center in the world, or donate your special skills, such as photography, legal services, or teaching. 

 Located in West Hollywood, the 52-year-old Los Angeles LGBT Center focuses on serving the LGBT community with a paid staff of almost 800 and an army of volunteers, who begin their work by attending a regularly scheduled orientation. Core components of the center’s work include health, social services/housing, culture and education, and leadership and advocacy.

Benefiting: Angelenos 

 Service: Clean up a section of the Los Angeles River. 

Activist and poet Lewis MacAdams founded FOLAR, Friends of the Los Angeles River, in 1986 with the mission of turning the city’s “concrete scar” into a haven for open space, recreation, and habitat restoration.

Benefiting: At-risk youth and youth in foster care

Service: Bake and distribute birthday cakes.

Since 2016 the nonprofit For Goodness Cakes has been matching baking volunteers with children who wouldn’t otherwise have a birthday cake. The organization has locations across the country, with its flagship in Los Angeles.

Benefiting: Pasadena neighbors 

 Service: Get involved with education-focused and project-based gardening.

At the corner of S. Pasadena Ave and Arlington Drive, find the 3-acre Arlington Gardens, featuring art installations and seven different plant communities, from desert to citrus groves. Benches and patio furniture are set throughout the varied environments to enjoy solo or in small groups. The space is open to the public. You can sign up online to attend an orientation on regenerative gardening, then start volunteering.

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