Give back this new year with these volunteer and donation opportunities

Giving back is often high on the New Year’s resolution list, but as the holiday season goes by and the hustle and bustle of everyday life returns, those good resolutions can often fall by the wayside.

Fortunately, it has never been easier to donate to good causes in the community or do volunteer work.

The We Are Santa Monica Fund is a one-stop shop for local donations. The organization was founded at the beginning of the pandemic to raise COVID-19 relief funds and has recently changed its donation categories to serve a wider range of purposes.

These purposes include helping small businesses, providing resources to BIPOC and LGBTQIA + organizations; Ensuring access to healthy food and to playgrounds and exercise areas; Investing in sustainability; and sharing resources with families who need additional support. Donations can be made at calfund.org/wearesantamonica/.

People who donate to the fund can deduct their contributions from tax and at the same time support non-profit organizations and community initiatives in need of assistance. The fund is administered by the 501 (c) 3 California Community Foundation, which can grant this tax deduction and help review nonprofits that apply for grants from the fund.

“Santa Monica is a wonderful community and the people who live here have such big hearts and I think that every time you invest in the place you live it helps make it a better and better place to make a stronger community, ”said Debbie Lee, chief communications officer and advisory board member for the fund.

Grant applications are currently open to registered nonprofits operating in Santa Monica that support one of the fund’s broad missions. Grants are available for up to $ 25,000 and applications can be submitted at tinyurl.com/WeAreFundApplication.

For individuals who want to invest their time, the city has a database of volunteer opportunities at www.weare.santamonica.gov/get-involved. Below is a selection of current opportunities that span a range of community initiatives.

Fight homelessness

The 100 Homes Initiative is a city initiative to move 100 people from Santa Monica transition homes to permanent homes across Los Angeles.

The initiative seeks volunteers who can help in three ways: by phone banking with property owners to find buildings that accept federal housing vouchers, by donating furniture and household items, and by helping manage relocation logistics. Interested parties can fill out a short survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/100homes.

“That would probably be the most beneficial way right now for people to get involved and contribute to a very important need in our community,” Lee said of the 100 Homes initiative.

Other nonprofits addressing homelessness seeking volunteers include The People Concern, Upward Bound House, Step Up On Second, and Chrysalis.

Chrysalis is looking for volunteers to help their ex-homeless clients practice interviews, perfect their resumes and write cover letters. This mentoring work has a commitment of six months and is carried out entirely remotely. Volunteers can register at https://tinyurl.com/ChrysalisVolunteer.

Fight against food insecurity

Food on Wheels West is a leading provider of free nutritious meals in Santa Monica and is constantly looking for volunteer drivers to deliver their meals to local neighbors of all ages. This is an important resource for elderly residents, veterans, formerly homeless, immunocompromised, people with disabilities and people with acute mental health problems.

The driving shifts start at 10:45 am or 11:45 am and last around two hours. Individuals interested in enrolling can email Jen Kappelman at [email protected] or visit the online planner at https://west.mowscheduler.com/helpwanted.

Another major local grocer, Westside Food Bank supplies the Virginia Avenue Food Pantry, which has served around 200 families who have suffered food insecurity during the pandemic. Individuals can order dried foods and canned goods right on the blackboard at 1710 22nd St.

Improving education and childcare

The Santa Monica Boys and Girls Club is looking for volunteers to support one or more hours per week with their youth program. There are a variety of options and durations.

Volunteers can help with athletics, arts and crafts, tutoring, computer skills, the youth center, fundraising, and more. Further information can be found at https://www.smbgc.org/get-involved/volunteer/.

Another important community need is increased funding for Santa Monica Public Libraries, which lost 40 percent of their staff during the city’s pandemic budget restructuring. Currently, the Main Branch Library, Pico Branch, and Ocean Park Branch are reopened with limited hours and services, while the Fairview Branch and Montana Avenue Branch will remain closed to the public.

Friends of the Santa Monica Public Library is an advocacy group dedicated to restoring funding to libraries. The organization also helps fund the library’s summer reading program, Dia Celebration and Arts & Literacy Festival, as well as the library branch’s Teen Advisory Councils.

The organization is currently looking for volunteers who can get involved in fundraising, advocacy, social media marketing and graphic design. Interested parties can send an email to [email protected]

[email protected]

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