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Community News

Area volunteers needed during holiday season

11/24/2011 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Volunteers like these, who helped at the Haven of Rest, are in need during the holiday season, according to the United Way of Summit County’s Volunteer Center.
Photo courtesy of the Volunteer Center
GREATER AKRON — Between staging special events and helping the less fortunate, many local nonprofits have their hands full the next few weeks, which means there are many volunteer opportunities for those who can lend a hand.

The Volunteer Center at the United Way of Summit County serves as a clearinghouse of volunteer needs and is a great place for those who are looking for something to do, according to Andrea Metzler, director of volunteer services.

The best thing for some about volunteering during the holidays is that it’s a one-time opportunity, Metzler said.

“It’s a good way to get your feet wet and try out a couple of different agencies and get a feel for what they do and the people they help,” Metzler said.

The Volunteer Center works with nonprofits throughout Summit County to help publicize the need for volunteers. On its website, www.uwsummit.org/vol_center/volunteers.html, volunteers can find a list of local volunteer opportunities especially compiled for the holiday season.

One of the biggest needs at this time of year is volunteers to assist with adopt-a-family programs. These opportunities allow a family or group of people to buy holiday gifts for a family in need.

Locally, the Battered Women’s Shelter, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Western Reserve, Community Support Services, Family Promise of Summit County and Summit County Children Services all have families available.

Those who participate receive a wish list of items from the families. After buying and wrapping the gifts, they can be dropped off with the agency for distribution.

Metzler noted these are confidential programs that do not give donors the chance to interact with an agency’s clients. For volunteers who do want the experience of being with those who are helped, there are opportunities such as helping with a children’s holiday party with the Akron Urban League, and paying visits to residents with multiple sclerosis through the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Another opportunity throughout the holidays is gift wrapping for nonprofit organizations. ACCESS Inc., Cascade Locks Park Association, Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Salvation Army need help in this area.

Holiday bakers are needed by Hospice of Visiting Nurse Service (VNS) and Pregnancy Care of Summit County. Hospice of VNS also is looking for musicians who can provide holiday music in the coming weeks.

Metzler said anyone interested in finding a volunteer opportunity for the holidays is encouraged to go to the Volunteer Center website to look over the list. To find out more about an opportunity or to volunteer, call the center at 330-643-5512 or email ametzler@uwsummit.org.

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