Ways to give back on the Westside

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is seeking 6,000 volunteers to assist with this year’s Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, dubbed the largest volunteer homeless census in the nation.

Survey teams deploy to Westchester, Playa del Rey and Venice from 8 to 11 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 28, and to Santa Monica from 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 28 to 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 29. On Jan. 29, volunteers canvass Del Rey and Mar Vista from 6 to 9 a.m. and Marina del Rey from 7 to
10 a.m.

Volunteers must register online at lahsa.nationbuilder.com, where meet-up locations are posted. Teams gather demographic data including age, ethnicity, duration of homelessness and veteran status.           — Gary Walker

Give happiness for the holidays

Toy and clothing drives benefiting local youth

Williamson & Pagan Sleeping Bag and Jacket Drive

RE/MAX realtors Kim Williamson and Nicole Pagan are collecting sleeping bags, backpacks and winter jackets or hoodies for Safe Place for Youth, a Venice nonprofit that assists homeless teens. A Safe Place for Youth lost many of its supply reserves in the Oct. 25 fire at the Extra Space Storage facility on Venice Boulevard. Call (310) 722-4200 or (310) 678-6650 for drop-off and pick-up information.

LAFD Spark of Love Toy Drive

The Los Angeles Fire Department is once again hosting its citywide Spark of Love toy drive, which collects and distributes new, unwrapped toys or sporting goods for families in need. Drop off donations through Dec. 25 at city fire stations, including: Station No. 5, 8900 S. Emerson Ave., Westchester; Station No. 62, 11970 Venice Blvd., Mar Vista; Station No. 63, 1930 Shell Ave., Venice; and Station No. 67, 5451 Playa Vista Drive, Playa Vista. Call (213) 978-3800 for more information.

Playa del Rey Toy Drive for Children’s Hospital  

Community organizers are collecting new, unwrapped children’s toys for patients at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Gift cards are also welcome. Collection happens Dec. 6 at Trask Triangle Park, at Trask Avenue and Waterview Street in Playa del Rey. Call (323) 361-8397.

Muscle Beach Toy Drive

Jog to Muscle Beach between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on
Dec. 6 or 7 to give a new, unwrapped toy to a kid in need and (on Dec. 7) participate in games and giveaways during the eighth annual Muscle Beach Toy Drive at the Venice Recreation Center, 1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice. Call (310) 399-2775.

Venice Vintage Motorcycle Club Two-Wheeled Toy Drive

Roll by Beyond Baroque between 8 p.m. and midnight on Dec. 5 to join the Venice Vintage Motorcycle Club’s Two-Wheeled Toy Drive by gifting a new, unwrapped toy or $20. Festivities include a live deejay holiday games, charity raffle, complimentary food from Wurstküche Venice and drinks from Angel City Brewing and Pabst Blue Ribbon. On Dec. 7, club members will transport proceeds to the Muscle Beach Toy Drive on their two-wheeled sleds. Visit venice-vitnage.com.

The Great Venice Toy Drive & Holiday Festival

The Venice Neighborhood Council and the Vera Davis McClendon Youth and Family Center are collecting new, unwrapped, non-violent toys through Dec. 18 at various locations in Venice, including Abbot’s Habit (1401 Abbot Kinney Blvd.), Oscar’s Cerveteca (523 Rose Ave.), Superba Food & Bread (1900 Lincoln Blvd.), the Venice Farmers Market (7:30 to 10:30 a.m. Fridays at Venice Boulevard and Venice Way) or during the Venice Holiday Sign Lighting
(6 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 5 at Windward Circle). The drive culminates in a holiday festival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 20 at the Oakwood Recreation Center, (767 California St., Venice), where kids 16 and under can choose a gift and a book donated by the Friends of the Venice Library, have lunch, take a photo with Santa and participate in games and arts activities. Email thegreatvenicetoydrive@gmail.com.

— Compiled by Elliot Stiller and Joe Piasecki

Free Arts for Abused Children helps kids bounce back from adversity by finding self-esteem, creativity, confidence and independence through arts programming. The Del Rey-based organization needs volunteers to lead art projects, work individually with kids and help out around the office. Call (310) 313-
4278 or email volunteers@freearts.org.

826LA teaches kids creative and expository writing skills at its Mar Vista Time Travel Center, 12515 Venice Blvd., Mar Vista. The nonprofit needs tutors and creative writing workshop leaders. Call (310) 915-0200 or visit 826LA.org.

The Westchester Family YMCA at 8015 S. Sepulveda Blvd. needs teachers and coaches. Call (310) 670-4316 or visit ymcala.org/Westchester.

Give a vet a ride

Help disabled veterans get rides to and from the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs’ West Los Angeles Medical Center using vehicles provided by the VA. Patients range from recent Iraq/Afghan combat vets to a 93-year-old veteran of World War II. Contact Blas Barragan at (310) 478-3711.

Lead and arts project

Free Arts for Abused Children helps kids who have suffered abuse, neglect, trauma or homelessness to bounce back from adversity by finding self-esteem, creativity, confidence and independence through arts programming. The Del Rey-based organization needs volunteers to lead art projects, work individually with kids and help out around the office. Call (310) 313-4278 or email volunteers@freearts.org.

Build a career

The JVS WorkSource Center in Marina del Rey helps unemployed people — including veterans and former foster youth — acquire job-finding skills and is searching for volunteer career coaches, case management assistants, computer tutors and administrative support workers at its 13160 Mindanao Way offices. Call (310) 309-6000 or visit jvsla.org.

Guide Audubon wetlands tours

The Audubon Society has been hosting Ballona Wetlands field trips for local school children since 1991, educating third-, fourth- and fifth-graders about the unique salt marsh ecosystem there. During tours, children view aquatic invertebrates through microscopes, hike through the coastal dune habitat to observe the unique plants and animals found there and view birds and other wildlife through telescopes out on Ballona Creek. Docent training for this semester’s tours begins on Sept. 11. No experience necessary. Call Cindy Hardin at (310) 301-0050 or email cindyhardin@laaudubon.org to sign up.

 Play with cats and dogs

The Lange Foundation, an animal rescue and placement nonprofit in West Los Angeles, needs volunteers to help walk dogs, socialize cats and assist with daily cleaning, feeding and kennel maintenance at its Halfway Home Kennel, 2106 S. Sepulveda Blvd. Help with mailings, adoption events, community outreach, public relations, legal advice and other specialized tasks is also needed. Call (310) 473-5585 or visit langefoundation.org.

A weekly list of ways to give back on the Westside

The Neighborhood Youth Association in Venice teaches writing, math and science skills to nearly 200 low-income kids, many of whom do not speak English at home. In a “Write This Way” class taught by volunteer Kendell Shaffer, a Venice resident, kids write screenplays and follow through to stage original theatrical productions. Local architect Brad Johnson volunteers to teach kids about science and engineering through egg drops and other fun activities. A volunteer team from Boeing helps kids learn computer programming skills by working together to build a functional robot. The nonprofit needs tutors in math and English, college prep mentors and interns and is also seeking a martial arts instructor. Call (310) 390-6641 or visit nyayouth.org.

The Giving Spirit delivers food and hygiene kits to the homeless and is currently recruiting professionals who can volunteer to help with fundraising, copy editing, public relations, event planning, graphic design, grant writing, tax accounting and delivery services. Call (310) 442-9489 or visit thegivingspirit.com.

School on Wheels is searching for volunteer tutors and tutor coordinators and needs help sorting and packaging school supplies, extending community outreach, planning parties for homeless students and conducting a backpack drive. Call (213) 896-9200 or visit schoolonwheels.org.

Send tips about local volunteering opportunities or a personal story about volunteering to letters@argonautnews.com.