One from the heart: Volunteer opportunities for the New Year

Many local and at-large organizations exist solely with

donations and the help of volunteers.

By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times

They say that charity from the heart is the gift that keeps on giving. And what can be more charitable than offering your time and energies for a worthy cause?

With that in mind, following is a list of a few local, nonprofit organizations that survive on the generosity of donations and volunteerism.

American Red Cross Blood Donations: Every two seconds in America, someone needs blood. With blood banks sorely lacking supplies, your pint might truly be the gift of life. Donations can also be made in someone else’s name. Anyone who is healthy, at least17 years old and weighs more than 109 pounds is eligible to donate. 800.GIVE.LIFE; www.GiveLife.org

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If you are squeamish about needles and prefer something closer to home, consider becoming a docent for the Adamson House, Malibu’s local heritage museum. The Malibu Lagoon Museum Association is an all-volunteer group and docents are trained to provide walking tours throughout the gardens and house, which was originally built in 1930 and is located in the middle of Malibu on the ocean side of Pacific Coast Highway. 310.456 8432; www.adamsonhouse.org

City Hearts is a nonprofit organization dedicated to offering free visual and performing arts classes to children in Los Angeles, particularly to inner-city youth whose futures are at risk from cycles of abuse and neglect. Through artistic expression, these children can learn to transcend the poverty of their lives and become productive and creative members of society. Volunteer opportunities include offering your own particular artistic expertise, sewing costumes for the City Hearts Shakespeare program, and helping with the Harvest Party and Fundraiser at the Malibu Family Winery later this year. The City Hearts 22nd Anniversary Party will take place Jan. 18 and is a good way to become acquainted with the program. 310.455.2898; www.cityhearts.org

Mental illness affects one in four families in the U.S. and costs the country upward of $100 billion a year. NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, aims to educate and de-stigmatize the public about the heavy tolls of mental illness. Aside from offering a Professional Supporters program, NAMI relies strictly on volunteers to organize their awareness-raising NAMIWALKS. Contact: Local NAMI organizer Brian Canning, 310.317.0387; www.nami.org.

Does the call of the wild speak louder to you? Located in the heart of the Santa Monica Mountains, the California Wildlife Center rescues, rehabilitates and releases imperiled wildlife. Its volunteer staff rescues injured local fauna and nurses them back to health before releasing the animals back into their native habitat. Rescues include sea lions, coyotes, hawks, jackrabbits, bobcat, deer, skunks and Virginia opossums. The CWC is offering its first volunteer training course of the year on Jan. 20. Contact: Victoria Harris, 818.222.2658; e-mail: volunteer@californiawildlifecenter.org

For the environmentally minded, the Santa Monica Baykeeper has several volunteer opportunities to get people out of the office and onto the beach on a sunny afternoon. The Baykeeper’s mission is to protect and restore the Santa Monica Bay through regulatory enforcement, fieldwork and community action. Its Kelp Restoration Project seeks certified divers to help monitor kelp in the bay. Contact Tom Ford at captainkelp@smbaykeeper.org. Its Beachkeeper Program enlists volunteers to monitor designated strips of the coastline by collecting water samples to help identify sources and quantities of pollution and notating the appearance of certain birds. They provide training. Contact: Carlos Carreon at sandpiper@smbaykeeper.org. Phone: 310.305.9645.

Handy with a hammer and saw? Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 and made famous by former President Jimmy Carter’s promotion of the organization in 1984, when he took his first HFH trip to New York City to build houses for the homeless. HFH is made possible by the contributions of thousands of volunteers, who build affordable housing and provide zero-interest mortgages to low-income families. HFH’s volunteers have built homes all over the world and provide training for interested willing hands. 310.323.4663; www.habitatla.org

The Club is a teen center located above Malibu High School affiliated with the national Boys & Girls Club of America. Funded entirely by community donations, The Club seeks handymen, administrative support, marketing expertise, webmasters and computer techies. Contact: Program Director Kasey Fritsch, kaseyfritsch@bgcmalibu.org

TheParent-Teacher Associations at every school in town indispensably provide the means for Malibu children to get the full, comprehensive academic and artistic education they deserve. PTAs can always use volunteers. Contact your child’s school at: www.smmusd.org and click on PTA Council.

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