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Best Places To Give Back This Holiday Season In The Bay Area


The holiday season is a great time to help those less fortunate. If you have children, it can also teach them some important lessons about charity, as well as give your family an activity to do together during this busy time of year. Last year, we suggested five great places for you to volunteer with your family in the East Bay. Here are five more worthwhile groups who need your help this holiday season across the Bay Area.

Catholic Charities
180 Howard St., Suite 100
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 972-1200

Based in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties, Catholic Charities CYO provides social services to the elderly, low-income families and children. There are several opportunities to volunteer this holiday season at the various programs that Catholic Charities CYO runs. For more information about the various volunteer opportunities at Catholic Charities, visit

Volunteer Center of the East Bay
700 Ygnacio Valley Road, Suite 140
Walnut Creek, CA 94596
(925) 472-5760

The Volunteer Center of the East Bay, which serves Alameda and Contra Costa counties, is holding many events this season. Some of the opportunities to volunteer include answering letters to Santa in Danville, helping kids create holiday gifts on December 8 at the Danville Community Center and serving as an 'elf' at the Elf Workshop on December 9. For more information about the dates and times of available activities, visit the Volunteer Center of the East Bay's volunteer calendar at

Village Harvest
San Jose, CA 95157
(888) 378-4841

Village Harvest is a nonprofit with a unique mission: to keep the many fruit trees of the San Jose area from going to waste. Silicon Valley has the remnants of many orchards, as well as a variety of fruit trees planted for decoration, and much of that fruit goes unharvested and uneaten. Village Harvest coordinates with property owners and volunteers to harvest this fruit and donates it to local food banks and charities. Plus, volunteering to pick fruit is a great way to get some exercise and hep others. Harvest days for the holiday season will be announced in early December. For more information and requirements, visit

Volunteer Marin
555 Northgate Drive, Suite 200
San Rafael, CA 94903

Volunteer Marin helps connect nonprofits in the North Bay with groups, families and individuals who are interested in volunteering. Volunteer Marin partners with several North Bay nonprofits, including the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room, local schools and after-school programs, food banks and senior centers and residences. Current opportunities for the holiday season include making holiday cards with the residents of the Cedars of Marin, making a Christmas dinner for residents of Homeward Bound of Marin and many other activities. In addition, Volunteer Marin is sponsoring a "Holiday Gifts of Love" program held from November 1 to January 20, encouraging individuals, families and groups to volunteer during the holiday season. To see what volunteer opportunities are available, visit the Opportunities Calendar at

Second Harvest Food Bank
Bing Center
1051 Bing St.
San Carlos, CA 94070
(650) 610-0800

Second Harvest Food Bank serves Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. The charity, which was founded in 1974, has been collecting unused food and making it available to those less fortunate for decades. Second Harvest works with other nonprofits to make its services as efficient as possible. Second Harvest happily accepts donations of both food and cash, but also relies on volunteers to reduce its costs by packing food that is ready to be delivered, or by helping distribute food in the community. You can also volunteer at the Second Harvest office or host a food drive at your workplace, school or community event. Second Harvest has locations in San Jose, San Carlos and branches across Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. For days and times when you can volunteer, visit

Laura Tarwater-Scharp is a freelance writer, editor and historian. Originally from the Midwest, she has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over a decade. 


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