The holiday season is upon us, and that means many people must decide where to volunteer to help others.
Not sure where to volunteer? There are many nonprofit organizations that provide special holiday events in the central San Joaquin Valley. Among them, the Salvation Army in Selma needs bell ringers in Fowler, Reedley, Sanger and Selma, and The Cat House on the Kings seeks Santa’s helpers. Other organizations want volunteers year-round, such as Shinzen Gardens and Friends of the Gillis Library.
To help, The Bee invites Valley organizations to provide information about the opportunities for people to volunteer — and has come up with a list.
Officials with organizations say their opportunities increase in the holiday season. They also say volunteers can feel a sense of reward in helping others.
St. Benedict Catholic Worker, a ministry that provides a soup line in front of Fresno County Jail, is seeking volunteers to help prepare and serve meals — dinners on Tuesday nights and lunches on some Saturdays.
Liza Apper, co-founder/director of St. Benedict Catholic Worker with husband Bryan Apper, says the mission is do the corporal works of mercy, such as feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, bring to the thirsty, and visit the imprisoned.
“(Volunteers) have direct contact with the people they serve, and there are all sorts of people in our soup line — homeless people, lawyers, friends or relatives visiting the jail, and sheriff’s officers,” she says. “It’s an amazing thing.
“We’re here for everyone — not just the people visiting others in jail, but also the people on the streets. We’re here for the hungry. Come and do.”
Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County: Help with gift wrapping. Details: 266-3117, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cat House on the Kings: Volunteers needed as helpers during photos with Santa and inside the adoption center 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 6 and Dec. 13 at Petco, 4144 N. Blackstone Ave. Details: 443-9124, www.cathouseonthekings.com.
Friends of the Gillis Library: The library will hold a book sale and needs volunteers Nov. 24-26 and Dec. 3-7 to sort books by author, Dec. 8-10 to unpack boxes of books, Dec. 11-14 to help run the book sale, and Dec. 15-16 to pack unsold boxes. Details: 285-3427, 225-0140.
Fresno/Calwa Community Outreach and Bread of Life Ministry: Help prepare, serve, and cleanup during the homeless Thanksgiving dinner, 3:30-6:30 p.m. Nov. 26 at Roeding Park in the Eucalyptus Grove area, 894 W. Belmont Ave.. donations needed. Volunteers can help during a holiday toy drive that includes sign holding and clean up beginning at 9 a.m. Dec. 6 in the O’Reilly’s parking lot at 4969 E. Kings Canyon Road. Help is needed for the homeless Christmas dinner 3:30-6:30 p.m. Dec. 17 at Roeding Park, in the Eucalyptus Grove area. Duties include meal preparation, serving and clean up; donations are needed. There will be a community wrapping party 8 a.m.-noon Dec. 21 at Mosqueda Center, 4670 N. Butler Ave. Donations of scissors, wrapping paper, tape and 33-gallon trash bags are needed. Toy distribution will be from noon-2 p.m. Details: 241-0271, 283-1869.
Open Gate Ministries: Help is needed 8 a.m. to noon Dec. 16 at the Orosi Memorial Hall, 41645 Road 128, to make and distribute Christmas food bags to the needy in the Cutler/Orosi area. Another distribution will take place 8 a.m.-noon Dec. 22 in Dinuba. Volunteers are also needed year-round at the thrift store to sort, clean, and price products. Details: 591-1241.
Selma Salvation Army: Volunteers are needed to be kettle ringers during the holiday season in Fowler, Reedley, Sanger and Selma. Details: 303-8187, 897-2501.
AARP Taxaide in Madera: Help seniors and low income people prepare income tax returns. Volunteers needed Fridays Feb. 6-April 15 in Madera. Details: 658-5983, 673-4115.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County: Volunteers are needed to help with kids and office duties. Details: 266-3117, email@example.com.
Cat House on the Kings: Help is needed at the Petco adoption center 9 a.m. to noon Sundays through Thursdays; also, cleaning and feeding duties and transporting cats within Fresno. Details: 443-9124, www.cathouseonthekings.com.
Catholic Charities: Help is needed to run the thrift store, work in the food distribution warehouse, or with data entry and answering phones. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Details: 237-0851, MO’Rourke@ccdof.org.
Fresno Arts Council: Help is needed to staff the gift shop at the Historic Water Tower 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, shifts are 3 hours long. Details: 237-9734.
Fresno County Friends of the Library Bookstore: Volunteers are needed to sort and stock books and audio tapes. 9 a.m. to noon Thursdays. Details: 600-7286.
Habitat for Humanity: Volunteers are needed to help run the Fresno ReStore 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Duties include stocking shelves, moving products, cleaning items, putting items together, organizing and helping customers unload donations. Details: 237-4102, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Trails Riding Academy: Help sign up riding sessions, which last for 12 weeks at a time and work with therapists and instructors. Volunteers must attend an orientation. Details: 688-8685, email@example.com.
Meux Home Museum: Help is needed with various events throughout the year, gardening and general upkeep of the home. Details: 977-5767.
Millbrook Church: Help with serving and cooking dinner 3-6 p.m. every Friday. Also help at the thrift store with stocking and hanging clothing. Details: 227-5355.
Saint Agnes Holy Cross Center for Women: Help with projects, receptionist and clerical duties, caring for children, teaching programs and assisting with a variety of activities on an as-needed basis. Details: 237-3379.
Selma Second Chance Animal Shelter: Help is needed to clean kennels, take dogs for walks and exercise, do laundry, and assist with finding homes for the dogs. The shelter is open seven days a week and volunteers are especially needed during the afternoon. Details: 896-7227.
Shinzen Friendship Garden: The Japanese garden in Woodward Park needs volunteers for gardening on the third Saturday of the month, help during special events, assistance with educational events and classes for children, members for the pruning team and educational guides to provide tours. Training is offered. Details: 840-1264.
St. Benedict Catholic Worker: Volunteers are needed to help prepare and serve meals for a soup line held weekly in front of the Fresno County Jail. Details: 229-6410.
Tally Ho Riding Academy in Clovis: Help care for the horses, barn chores, leading/side walking the horse with the students. Help with additional tasks is needed. Hours are negotiable. Details: 323-9046, www.thtra.com.
Veterans Memorial Museum: Seeking former military personnel to help two or more days a week. The hours are 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on the days of the volunteers choosing. Details: 498-0510.
Warnors Center for the Performing Arts: Volunteers are needed to give theater tours. Must be at least 16 years of age. Details: 264-2848, firstname.lastname@example.org .