Lend A Helping Hand During the Holidays

BY: THOMAS ROJAS

As the holidays come our way this December, it is important to recognize those who may be in need this season. These people can be all around us — it could be a neighbor, a co-worker or even a fellow student who could use a helping hand. With that being said, if one is interested in donating, it is first important to know where and what to provide. There are numerous organizations in Long Beach that help those in need in many different ways. It can vary from food, clothing and shelter. So for those who are interested in donating during the holiday season, these are places where you can start.

Catholic Charities of LA Long Beach Community Services Center

The Catholic Charities of LA Long Beach runs two shelters — one for homeless families and one for adults. The organization offers services such as food, hygiene kits, diapers for infants and seniors, formula, infant food and tokens for medical appointments. The services they provide also include case management assistance, to help those in the shelters to sustain housing. On an average day, they assist over 600 families with food services. The location is East 14th St. in Long Beach. Jazmin Burgos is a caseworker at Catholic Charities who has been with the organization for three years. She said, “I love what Catholic charities do for the families here and for the community, like the work that they do with the programs they offer. It’s just the way they show their love and their passion for their work here. They go out of their way to help their clients.”

Christian Outreach in Action

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Christian Outreach in Action is an independent, non-denominational, 501(c) non-profit multi-cultural center located at 515 East 3rd St. For over 30 years the center has been helping the homeless, working poor and community residents in need. In doing this they are the only provider of hot meals seven days a week in Long Beach. Outreach in Action provides clothing for over 15,000 individuals in the area. They also have a food bank and provide furniture for those who have obtained housing. The organization runs housing programs and case managed, stabilized part-time work, as well as assisting families with their electricity and gas bills. They also offer rental assistance for different areas such as Whittier, Norwalk, Bellflower, Downey and Santa Fe Springs. The organization is always accepting donations and is currently in need for clothing to provide to those in need. Office Assistant of COA Ana De La Torre said, “We help everyone in need… We don’t ask questions. We’re just here to give a hand up.”

Food Finders

Food Finders is a non-profit food rescue organization that has been around for 28 years. They go out and pick up foods from various locations and send them to non-profit organizations so that foods can be distributed to individuals. They work with over 300 non-profit organizations. They are LA and Orange County based and have agencies in San Bernardino. These organizations include COA and Catholic charities. Its donation locations include missions, shelters, food pantries, neighborhood centers and clinics. It has approximately 100-150 volunteers and three drivers. Food Finders is working to surpass its goal of rescuing over 8.3 million pounds of food this year. Diana Lara, vice president of operations with Food Finders, was instrumental in getting CSULB’s food pantry started. Lara said, “The hardest part is that we never know what we are going to get. Some day you may go to a market and they have 20 pounds [of food,] another day they may have 300 pounds...people say, ‘I need meat products, I need this’ but that’s not the way it operates. It’s whatever gets donated that day is what you receive.”

Long Beach Rescue Mission

The Long Beach Rescue Mission is a non-profit organization that serves over 198,000 individuals per year. The organization provides meals, clothing, healing and recovery programs and safe shelters for those in need and has been operating since 1972. As of this month, donations are able to supply 6,000 with shelter and 19,200 meals and. The organization provides services such as bridge programs, case management, emergency services, resident apprentice programs and transitional housing.