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The gift of holiday volunteering
13 November 2005
by Gretchen Losi

California, USA: The idea of volunteering in the community is often appealing to many. Unfortunately, finding the time and researching where one's skills would best be used often places the idea on the back burner.

"I work 50 hours a week and then come home to kids, their homework, a needy lawn, bills to be paid and a wife with yet another list of needs," Artie Monroe of Victorville in California, USA said. "I have the desire to volunteer, just not the time to make a huge commitment."

The holiday season is great time to get involved in the community and put those good intentions to work. Several organizations do special outreach programs this time of the year and extra help is always needed.

"It's about giving back to your community," Saint Joan of Arc Church volunteer David Aguilera said. "The feeling you receive when you help out is something really good."

Toys 4 Tots is looking for a variety of helpers.

One can already find bins around town marked Toys 4 Tots where residents can drop-off toys to be given to less fortunate children throughout the Victor Valley.

The week following Thanksgiving you'll spot Toys 4 Tots volunteers in the mall — and you can be one of them. As a volunteer gift wrapper you would be cutting, taping and tying-up bows on gifts purchased at the mall. The donations received for the service will go towards the purchase of additional toys for distribution.

Which is where the next wave of volunteers would be needed.

The toys are collected at the National Guard Armory in Apple Valley where volunteers separate, sort and bag the thousands of donations.

"Ladies familiar with the different toys are encouraged (to volunteer). They seem to have a greater talent for identifying what the kids like," the programs president Jim Bess said.

The Salvation Army also has several outreaches throughout the holiday season.

Different schools in the area are now collecting canned goods for the food bank that's then distributed throughout the year.