A Guide To Holiday Joy: How to Help the Less Fortunate

Eric Bourse, El Vaquero Staff Writer

It’s that special time of year, the long lines at the mall, the clanging of cash registers and the loud clamoring of shoppers looking for the best deals on those last minute gifts. In the consumer rush that is known as holiday season, it can be easy to forget that it’s also the season for giving to the less fortunate and the needy.

Thankfully there are plenty of ways to give back to different parts of the community. Here is a list for different charities, volunteer opportunities and events in the Los Angeles, Glendale and Pasadena areas.

The “Put the Fork In Hunger” toy drive event in Pasadena takes place on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Fork Plaza at 200 Bellefontaine St. Donate unwrapped toys for kids ages 5 to 17 to volunteers dressed as elves. This event is sponsored by the Union Station Homeless Services, Five Acres and the AIDS Service Center. For more information go to http://www.puttheforkinhunger.com.

The “Sparks of Love” toy drive, created by ABC7 and the fire departments in Los Angeles counties, has been collecting toys for children for nearly two decades. Those interested in donating can drop off unwrapped toys at their nearest fire station. An event will be held on Sunday at the train station at 400 W. Cerritos Ave. The Metrolink Holiday Express will stop by at 5:45 p.m. and collect toys, as well as have musical performances.

Toys can also be dropped off at Toys R Us stores, such as the one at 2905 Los Feliz Blvd. in Los Angeles for “Toys for Tots,” a charity created

by the Marines that donates toys to children in poverty. Go to

http://www.toysfortots.org for more information.

The Help a Mother Out charity focuses on providing financially stressed families with a supply of diapers. Money donations can be donated online at http://www.helpamotherout.org and packages of diapers can be dropped off at The Treehouse Social Club at 426 S. Robertson Blvd. in Los Angeles.

On Saturday, more than 50 bloggers will have a charity bake sale called “Eat My Blog” at the Pita Jungle on 43 E. Colorado Blvd., in Pasadena from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Proceeds from the sale of the sweet baked treats will go to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. For more information go to http://www.eatmyblogla.wordpress.com.

The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, located 1734 E. 41st St., is involved in providing thousands of families with food every week and is in need for volunteers. The food bank is also looking for interns. For more information, go to http://www.lafoodbank.org/volunteer/information.aspx or call (323) 234-3030, extension 144.

The Union Rescue Mission at 545 S. San Pedro St. in Los Angeles has been helping the homeless with a wide variety of services such as food, clothing, shelter, legal assistance and much more. To volunteer, go to http://urm.org/get-involved/volunteer-center/ or call (213)347-6300, extension 1143.

Volunteers interested in the medical field can volunteer at the Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center at 1420 S. Central Ave. Applications can be picked up at the main lobby from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. A volunteer representative can be contacted at (818) 502-2373.

Animal lovers can volunteer at the Pasadena Humane Society and SPCA at 361 S. Raymond Ave. To apply, go to http://www.pasadenahumane.org.

On Christmas day, the Union Station Homeless Services will be hosting the “Dinners-in-the-Park” event at Central Park in Pasadena. Last year, the event served meals for 7,500 members of the community including the homeless and the elderly. About 3,600 toys were collected at the park last year.

For those interested in volunteering, go to http://www.unionstationhs.org/get_involved or show up at the park with holiday meals such as turkey, ham or side dishes as well as toys.

At the American Red Cross, donating blood will give the gift of life for those in dire need. The Glendale chapter is located at 1501 S. Brand Blvd. The hours are Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.