DanvilleSanRamon.com

Perspective - December 21, 2007

The perfect gift

When we were asking our Streetwise question last week - What would you do if you were alone on Christmas? - one woman talked about working at an animal shelter. She also told the reporter something interesting: Some shelters say they have plenty of volunteers on Christmas Day; but they need them badly every other day of the year.

The Volunteer Center of Contra Costa, which works out of an office in Walnut Creek, links volunteers with opportunities. It lists special ways to help out during the holidays. One was to distribute Christmas food, partnering with the Bay Area Rescue Mission to deliver boxes to 500 families in need. Another opportunity was to assemble food and toys for families. Another gift giveaway needed help in its Richmond warehouse.

Volunteers were still needed for Sunday, Dec. 23, to wrap Barnes & Noble purchases in the entrance of the store in downtown Walnut Creek. Two volunteers at a time work in three-hour shifts at the gift-wrapping table and donations go to Las Trampas, which supports adults with developmental disabilities to lead fuller lives in their homes, at work and in the community. Past volunteers said it was a great way to get into the Christmas spirit.

Another fun way to volunteer was to go Christmas caroling at hospitals. The group is called Love is the Answer (LITA) and although its caroling is finished for this year, it's a fun volunteering opportunity to keep in mind.

The Volunteer Center has more than 600 opportunities available for community volunteers year-round. It is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week and Wednesday evening until 8 p.m. Call 472-5768 to find out more. Its Web site is www.helpnow.org.

Or visit www.volunteermatch.org and enter your ZIP code to find out where to volunteer within the distance you want to travel, starting within five miles. It lists everything from Hope Hospice home or office volunteers - to animal shelters.

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