Where to volunteer for Thanksgiving, Christmas

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This season, Los Angeles brims with volunteer opportunities, from delivering gifts to walking Doberman puppies. Soup kitchens, animal shelters and outdoor cleanup crews stretch from Long Beach to Santa Clarita. As toy drives and holiday dinners kick in, the need for volunteers soars, but so does the number of people willing to help.

Nearing holidays tend to spur Angelenos into the giving spirit — and that’s a good thing. Andrew Linares, volunteer manager and alum of the Midnight Mission, a nonprofit that aids unhoused people, said the uptick is partially due to the amount of people who’ve recently moved to the area from out of state. The Midnight Mission has a handful of volunteers who are far from family and seeking something meaningful to do for the holidays.

“They come here and they make a family of their own, they pick their own family,” Linares said. “They start volunteering and building relationships with some of our guests and our staff, and it just becomes this beautiful tree.”

Often, the holidays allow extra time for people to show the compassion they already have, said Justin Szlasa, executive director of SELAH Neighborhood Homeless Coalition. “I find that there’s a tremendous amount of empathy and a tremendous amount of concern and goodwill in Angelenos,” Szlasa said. “I see it all the time every day, especially when it comes to homelessness, because I’d say that everyone feels that more can be done, that more should be done.”

Feeling the urge to help? Here are several volunteer opportunities, ranging from one-day events to recurring commitments across Los Angeles County.

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