Here in the Bay Area we have a lot to be grateful for. We don’t need air conditioners, we’re surrounded by stream of cultural events and stunning landscapes on all sides, we have Sergio Romo and Buster Posey. With so much to be thankful for, why not give back to the community by volunteering this holiday season? For those who want to get out there but aren’t sure where to start, here are nine great places you can volunteer. And don’t forget to sign up with friends!
Project Open Hand was launched in 1985 by Ruth Brinker, who realized that many people suffering from HIV/AIDS were dying from malnutrition. Her home-delivered meals program grew and grew and now serves people in San Francisco and Alameda Counties with many different serious illnesses that cause them to be homebound. It has also expanded to serve seniors. Volunteering with Project Open Hand is not just about giving food to people who can’t feed themselves, but it is about getting out in the community and talking to people who may not have any other visitors all day.
Glide Memorial Church is a San Francisco institution that welcomes people of all races, faiths, and opinions. Through their many programs, they try to break cycles of poverty and addiction and create a community that’s open and supportive of everyone. A great thing about Glide is that a large part of their work is done by volunteers and by getting involved, you can have a great impact and meet a lot of awesome people. Also, they have a bunch of holiday volunteer opportunities, serving meals, sorting toys and giving away grocery bags, so no excuses! Grab your friends and start helping out!
Since 1977 MCCLA has been working to promote Latino cultural expression in the Mission District of San Francisco through programs and activities representative of Latin American traditions. Since its inception, it has been driven by volunteers and community support. This year, you could be part of that community by leafleting, setting up or working as an usher for one their many events, maybe even their Holiday Youth Mariachi Concert on December 14 or Navidad Negra on January 5!
Want to do your volunteering outside? The California State Parks need you! With so many cuts to funding, our parks need volunteers now more than ever. Get out in the woods and help as a volunteer docent, helping visitors understand the cultural, natural and recreational resources of the parks, or get dirty maintaining trails, removing exotic plants, enhancing native plants or cleaning up beaches. Anything you do in one of California’s beautiful parks is guaranteed to not only be rewarding but also, a lot of fun.
Volunteer at the Second Harvest food bank. From sorting food in the warehouse, to education and outreach, to working in the office, to food distribution, help the food bank out in the way that makes most sense for you. For many things, volunteers only need to be 14 or older! So bring your family and help your community eat well this holiday season.
Another way to get outdoors is by volunteering at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. If you love being creative, kids or just have a lot of extra energy, this might be the perfect opportunity for you. Over the holidays the museum has volunteer opportunities of all kinds, from greeting to guiding people through exhibits to working the store. Not to mention you get to be in beautiful Sausalito.
Most would agree that we owe a pretty big debt of gratitude to the men and women who fight for us overseas. During the holidays this year, why not help the Veterans Administration make the lives of wounded, ill and elderly veterans a little easier by taking one of their many volunteer assignments? Whatever your skills or area of interest, there is always something you can do. From playing music to escorting patients to appointments to driving vans, there are a million ways you can serve those who served you.
Okay, what you really want to do is play with cute animals, right? Then join the SF SPCA in its mission to find homes for homeless animals by being part of Macy’s Holiday Windows! Pets, helping out and the holidays: the perfect combination.
Supporting cultural institutions is important and the San Francisco Ballet needs your help! Their BRAVO program has many different ways you can help, from translations, to administrative support to helping out with the Nutcracker during the Ballet’s busiest time of year while getting to meet staff and dancers and learn what goes on behind the scenes that makes a ballet run. It’s not just a great way to serve the community — it’s also really fun!
You can find many more volunteering opportunities at Bay Area Volunteer Information Center.
- By Lizzy Acker