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Family Guide to Holiday Volunteering

By Laura O'Brien

Get into the spirit of this holiday giving season by volunteering at local food kitchens and food distribution events. If one-on-one is more your style, get involved by visiting area seniors. Pets need help at the holidays too. Bring the kids, but check each organization's age requirements for volunteers.
Some groups also require attendance at a volunteer orientation ahead of time. Family calendar too cramped? Current donation needs are included for each organization.

Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services
3333 Third Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95817
(916) 456-1980
Reviews, Directions & More Info:
Directory listing
You can get started by completing an orientation (ages 10 and up) and there are plenty of opportunities for trained volunteers including bagging and prepping groceries or helping at mobile food distribution events. Please remember all volunteers ages 10-15 must be accompanied by a parent. There are also one-time volunteer opportunities available that don't require an orientation. Check the volunteer calendar on the SFBFS website for more information.
Contact: Robin at

Donation alternative: Drop off a turkey today for the SFBFS's annual turkey drive from 4:30 a.m. to 7

Loaves and Fishes
1321 N C St.
Sacramento CA 95811
(916) 446-0874
Reviews, Directions & More Info:
Directory listingAt Loaves and Fishes you can help prepare and serve the Christmas meal, which serves about 1,000 of Sacramento's homeless, including children – and anyone ages 14 and older may volunteer. There are several different shifts available. Meal-prep is from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. -- or work the serving shift from 10 a.m. to about 1:30 p.m. Each guest also receives a stocking stuffed with practical items such as toiletries or gifts for the children. So stocking stuffers are needed during the weeks of Dec. 12 and Dec. 19 and on Dec. 26 and Dec. 27 for sorting remaining stocking gifts. You can bring your younger ones for this activity – ages 10 and older are welcome.

Donation alternative: Check the needs list on the website in December for requested stocking stuffers.
Contact: Sandy at

Salvation Army
Del Oro Division Headquarters
3755 N. Freeway Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 563-3700

Help Salvation Army organize food and toys for clients of its annual Christmas Distribution at Cal
Expo on Dec. 21. Sign up on the website or at High-school-aged volunteers and older are welcome. Russian, Hmong, Spanish, and Laotian translators are needed. Donation alternative: Check the website for toy drop-off locations. There is particular need for toys for infants and children ages 10-12. Bell ringing also is starting for the holiday season and families with younger children are welcome. Contact (bell ringing): Helen at (916) 452-9388.

Sacramento Pet Food Bank, "Titanic's Pantry"

City of Sacramento Animal Care Services
2127 Front St.
Sacramento, CA 95818
(916) 808-7387
Reviews, Directions & More Info:
http://Directory listingOrganize a pet food collection drive in your neighborhood for Sacramento's Pet Food Bank, also known as Titanic's Pantry. The Hollywood Park neighborhood association launched the challenge this summer and Curtis Park followed suit. Titanic's Pantry has helped more than 2,500 pet owners since it began during the economic downturn in 2009. Other volunteer opportunities at Animal Care Services, such as cat petting and dog care, require a six-month commitment. Ages 13 and up may volunteer; teens ages 13-18 must be accompanied by a parent. Donation alternative: Drop off bags of dog and cat food.
Contact: Wambui Prouty at
Laura O'Brien is a freelance writer and mother (swap that) living in Roseville. She blogs occasionally at
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