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Volunteer opportunities in Los Angeles

Pick one of these volunteer opportunities in Los Angeles to donate your time, money and more to local charities in need

Volunteer opportunities in LA: A Midnight Mission Thanksgiving

LA is an amazing place, and we have lots of reasons to be thankful for living here. We also have a responsibility to take care of our city—its people, animals, trees, beaches and more. If you're looking for ways to give back, volunteer opportunities in Los Angeles abound. Start your charity work by choosing from our list of some of the best places to feed the needy, from Santa Monica to Downtown Los Angles and even in the SGB.

 

Volunteer opportunities in Los Angeles

Midnight Mission

Downtown’s Midnight Mission is one of the best-run organizations of its kind, offering counseling, education, training and job placement to the city’s homeless population, as well as food, shelter, personal hygiene and medical care. Along with regular meal services and food donation drives, the Mission holds special Thanksgiving and Christmas events. If you’d like to help during a special event, start with some regular volunteer hours—the Mission's website has a form you can fill out to help match you with the right service. Note: Because it’s an all-male facility, Midnight Mission asks that female volunteers come with a companion (male or female).

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Union Station Homeless Services

USHS, San Gabriel Valley’s largest social services agency, offers year-round community meal programs and other services for the area’s homeless population, including emergency shelter, community shower programs, children’s education and recreational activity and adult classes in parenting, money management and nutrition. USHS has also hosted Dinner in the Park for over four decades; deemed the biggest potluck in the nation by the LA Times, the volunteer-run dinner helps provide warm holiday meals to more than 7,000 low income, homeless and senior citizens. For details and volunteer information, check online; and if you’re interested in donating goods, take a look at USHS’ most-wanted list (green beans are in high demand).

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One Voice

Santa Monica–based One Voice has services that run the gamut, from emergency relief to families in crisis to a scholars program for low income students The organization puts on an annual Holiday Food Program to distribute Christmas food baskets, toys and books to more than 2,500 families living in poverty in the LA area. On the Thursday and Friday before Christmas, more than 2,000 volunteers come together to prep, sort and package food—it’s a festive atmosphere with holiday music and lots of socializing. Saturday, volunteers deliver the food and toys to seven distribution centers, and on Sunday, families arrive to receive the goods and celebrate with volunteers. To be part of the celebration, check One Voice’s volunteer info page and fill out a registration form.

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SOVA Community Food and Resource Program

At each of SOVA’s three service centers (West LA, West Hollywood and Van Nuys), food pantries are stocked with nutritious canned and packaged foods, breads and fresh produce—the pantries provide a free five-day supply of groceries and hygiene products for each family member in need. Volunteers are needed for everything from packaging and inventory to registering clients and entering data. SOVA offers opportunities for both "occasional" and "core" volunteers—check their site to learn more about both.

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Fred Jordan Mission

The Fred Jordan Mission has provided food, clothing, blankets and other services to the homeless population of inner city Los Angeles for more than 50 years. Its Street Banquet on Skid Row offers a traditional turkey dinner to hundreds of the area’s homeless. FJM also hosts a Christmas Celebration during which volunteers hand out food bags, toys and blankets—as well as sing carols—to more than 12,000 of downtown’s neediest. Volunteer opportunities are also available during Easter, Mother’s Day and back-to-school time. Check the Mission’s website to get involved. Note: The FJM is a religious organization and tends to hand out “food for the soul” (a.k.a. bibles) along with its “food for the body”—in case that sort of thing makes you uncomfy.

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Food on Foot

This organization distributes food (chicken, fresh fruits and veggies, granola bars, milk etc.) and gently used clothing, shoes and blankets every week in Hollywood. You can sign up to volunteer anytime, and it usually costs $25 (providing the funds to feed about five people for a day). Note: Neil Patrick Harris is a benefactor—he won $100,000 for FOF on Jeopardy in 2010—so don’t be surprised if while volunteering you see him don a hairnet and take to the streets.

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Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission

Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission offers a host of services, including hot meals, health services and housing to the needy population in San Fernando Valley. You can help to hand out meals, clothing, medicine and hygiene kits on weekdays, as well as volunteering for breakfast service on Saturdays and BBQs every other Sunday. Check the website for a volunteer application form and a calendar of events.

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One Incredible Family

This organization comes together to prepare meals which volunteers then bring to different shelters in West LA to be handed out by shelter volunteers. If you’re interested in the prep and cooking, but maybe not ready for the interaction side of things, this could be the group for you. Each November, OIF hosts its annual Homeless Feeding, an all-day event including meal prep, assembly and packing, delivery and serving at different shelters (this part is optional) and post-event cleanup. You can either donate your time or drop off key necessities like pre-cooked turkeys, pies, juice boxes, water or delivery vans—you know, if you have one handy.

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LA Regional Food Bank

Help distribute food to LA’s hungry at the LA Regional Food Bank. Volunteers are needed for food sorting, special events and food drives, including the organization’s yearly Operation Gobble, where volunteers will help to sort, inspect and repackage food for delivery during the holidays. Check the Food Bank website for a list of upcoming volunteer and Gobble dates and to register.

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Comments

2 comments
John M
John M

Being able to work in some kind of humanitarian service really is a great way to make a contribution to society. Something that really would be interesting would be to have some kind of way to better look for those kind of opportunities in your area. I personally would love to be able to work with children that are in a less fortunate position that I was and am in. Thank you for sharing these different options. 


http://www.childrenofportauprincehaiti.org/about-us/ 

Emily S
Emily S

That is so cool how these food charities are trying to give to those who are less fortunate. It is also cool that so many people are volunteering to help. It just shows how good people are. I remember when I was a kid, my parents would take me to a homeless shelter and we would serve food to the homeless like these charities do. It was a very rewarding experience. I should talk to my parents and see if we could do that again. 

http://www.wrightsfoodservice.com/