Giving Back During the Holiday Season

Ellie Poling and Juliet Miller, Staff Writers

Bay Area Rescue Mission

BARM, as it’s known to its residents and volunteers, provides 85,000 people in the Bay Area a place to sleep and one million people hot meals. BARM has many volunteer programs, including arts and crafts with the inner city children, assisting in the kitchen as a culinary instructor, or tutoring. To get involved with this worthwhile cause, head over to their website and simply sign up under the “get involved” tab. This nonprofit is one of the most rewarding volunteer programs to get involved. BARM believes all volunteers should have a hands-on experience that’s meaningful to both you, and the people at the shelter.

Make blankets for Children’s Hospital

We don’t think anything touches our hearts more than sick children in the hospital. Sometimes it’s hard to get connected to kids when they’re stuck in hospital beds all day. Most hospitals don’t let visitors come often and especially don’t let you play or give candy to the kids there. Oakland Children’s Hospital does allow you to make simple fleece blankets and distribute them to their patients. The project of making the blankets is a great activity for over the holidays. Maybe spend some quality time with your grandma and use her sewing machine! Or make several blankets with friends. Any way you decide to do this will definitely make any sick child a little cheerful.

Visit your local Retirement Home: Aegis

Look no further than Moraga to help your community’s senior citizens. The Aegis home is located just two miles away from Miramonte. The laid back environment at Aegis is perfect for anyone wanting to spend a few hours helping with the daily bingo games or just having a compelling conversation with a resident. These people love seeing kids come into their home and it always brings a smile to their faces.

Make a meal at Shelter Inc

Heres a great way to get involved and really feel like you’re spreading the holiday spirit to a large amount of people. Sign up online to prepare a meal for Shelter Inc. residents. This is an amazing experience that will have you up close and personal with people that are getting back on their feet. Doing simple tasks in the kitchen such as peeling vegetables or tossing  salads, followed by setting tables and washing dishes after the meal is over make the Shelter’s job much easier.

Similar to the Bay Area Rescue Mission, Senior Caie Kelley volunteers over the holidays at the Bay Area Crisis Nursery where she wraps presents and helps run the technology department at the Nursery.

She also teaches in East Oakland elementary schools through Aspire Education, leads a group of 30 volunteers who teach the kids how to read. Caie heads the program by planning the curriculum and instructing the volunteers on how to teach the kids.

Aside from Aspire Education, Kelley runs a tutoring organization called Helping Hearts on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Orinda elementary schools. 3rd 4th and 5th graders.

Junior Noelle Robbins volunteers every week at Berkeley East Bay Humane Society. With this organization Robbins walks dogs, cleans cages and socializes with the animals. If you’re interested in working with animals visit their website. Robbin’s believes it is important, especially during the holiday season, to give back to the community. “Make sure you’re volunteering for the right reasons, if you’re just doing it to show off to colleges you probably won’t be too much of a help,” Robbins said.