10 ways to volunteer, donate or give back in Long Beach this holiday season

It’s the season of giving and organizations across the city are seeking volunteers to help with anything from distributing food to those in need, delivering meals to elderly residents, collecting toys for holiday giveaways, or even feeding kittens in a nursery.

If you find yourself looking for places to donate your time and spread holiday cheer, here’s a list of opportunities to give back:

Prep and serve meals with the Long Beach Rescue Mission

The Long Beach Rescue Mission specializes in providing meals, shelter clothing and spiritual guidance to the homeless and those in need. The rescue mission is constantly seeking volunteers to help prep and serve meals every day of the week as well as help tutor in their learning center, work in their thrift store or serve as a mentor or bible study teacher. To get started, interested volunteers must attend a volunteer orientation held every second Saturday of the month at 9 a.m. at 1335 Pacific Ave. and fill out a volunteer form.

Contact a volunteer coordinator by calling 562-591-1292 or emailing [email protected]

This holiday season, the Long Beach Rescue Mission’s Meals for Hungry Neighbors initiative also encourages $2.20 donations to provide a person with one hot meal. According to their campaign site, one meal can lead to a night of safe shelter, warm clothes, hygiene products and recovery counseling for those who are struggling

Distribute meals and toys with Christian Outreach in Action

Christian Outreach in Action, at 1772 Clark Ave. in Downtown Long Beach, provides hot meals seven days a week to folks in need and gives away free diapers, clothes, furniture and pet food to anyone seeking services.

  • On Saturday, Nov. 26, COA is seeking volunteers for its annual Thanksgiving meal and blessing bag distribution from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Next month, on Saturday, Dec. 17, COA staff and volunteers will also help distribute toys to over 1,500 kids throughout the city.

Volunteers are always welcome and can sign up by calling 562-432-1440 and speaking to Carissa. More information on volunteer opportunities can be found on their website.

COA takes monetary donations and is in need of supplies for their hot meal distribution including individual-sized drinks, napkins, to-go containers, snacks, trash bags, aluminum foil and Ziploc bags.

Help throughout December with Long Beach Red Shield 

Throughout the month of December, Long Beach Red Shield, a chapter of the Salvation Army, is working to fulfill the Christmas wish list of hundreds of children and there is a high need for volunteers throughout the season.

On Dec. 17, Long Beach Red Shield is hosting its annual Holiday Toy Drive and volunteers are needed to help with traffic control, guest check-in and handing out toy bags from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Prior to the event, volunteers can help by sorting toy donations and filling toy bags. Through Dec. 24, volunteers can also sign up to take donations outside of storefronts by standing with the Salvation Army red kettle and ringing a bell to raise money.

Those interested can reach out to Regina Jaster at [email protected] or by calling 562-247-3531.

Clean up the coastline with Justin Rudd 

Every third Saturday of the month, volunteers can participate in a 30-minute beach cleanup at Rosie’s Dog Beach. The next event will be on Dec. 17 at 9:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. All ages are welcome to participate and can sign up here.

Wrap gifts with Love Beyond Limits

Volunteers are needed on Dec. 16 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to assist Love Beyond Limits with gift wrapping for the organization’s holiday adopt-a-family “Operation Give Me a Break” event later in the day where parents can pick a free toy for their child.

Volunteers will meet at 3515 Linden Ave. and can RSVP to Maleka Chris by calling 562-377-4857.

Donate toys to Love in the Mirror

Love in the Mirror is collecting new, unwrapped toys for their 10th annual toy giveaway on Dec. 18. A list of drop-off locations across Long Beach can be found on their website.

Help care for kittens with the Little Paws Project

The Long Beach Little Paws Project is always seeking pet-loving volunteers to help with operating its kitten nursery year-round. The foundation will take in sick or vulnerable kittens from local shelters or those that have been abandoned and provide them with round-the-clock care.

Volunteers can sign up for two-hour shifts in the nursery morning, afternoon and night to feed, weigh and socialize with the kittens and clean kennels.

The volunteer application can be found here.

Deliver meals to the elderly with Meals on Wheels Long Beach

For a few hours once a week, volunteers can assist with packing and delivering meals for ill, disabled and elderly homebound residents in Long Beach, Signal Hill and Leisure World Seal Beach. Volunteers will drive around providing meals and socializing with seniors across the city and surrounding areas.

More information about volunteering with Meals on Wheels can be found on their website, and those interested can fill out a quick application or call 562-439-5000 to get started.

Provide mutual aid with Long Beach Community Table

Long Beach Community Table is a nonprofit organization providing mutual aid to Long Beach residents. The organization’s mission is to “foster sustainable community to support the well-being, empowerment, and self-determination of food- and housing-insecure residents in the greater Long Beach area with dignity and compassion,” according to its website. Volunteers can sign up for a variety of shifts depending on their availability.

Every weekday, volunteers can pick up and drop off food donations at veteran communities, school campuses, sober living homes and more. On weekends, folks can sign up to provide food and hygiene essentials in areas of great need across Long Beach as well as pack and deliver groceries to homebound seniors.

To find out more about volunteering visit the Long Beach Community Table website and to volunteer, contact [email protected].

Protect the planet at the El Dorado Nature Center 

Nature lovers can spend their weekend clearing trails, cleaning parks and protecting animal habitats at the El Dorado Nature Center and at the Colorado Lagoon Marine Biological Reserve.

Every first Saturday volunteers will pull weeds, spread mulch and clean the stream at the nature center from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Every third Saturday, teams will assist in protecting critical wildlife habitats at the Colorado Lagoon Marine Biological Reserve. Every fourth Saturday, park-lovers can help clean up fishing line and debris from parks and lakes from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Additionally, organizations and groups can sign up for the center’s Adopt-a-Beach program to clean a beach of their choice.

To pre-register and sign-up call the El Dorado Nature Center at 562-570-1745 or visit the website for more information.

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Laura Anaya-Morga is a general assignment reporter for the Long Beach Post.
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