The holiday season is a critical time for charities. It is also a time for reflection on how to help the greater community when people are in the spirit of giving. There are several local organizations with worthy causes that truly make a difference in Los Angeles. From people who are facing fatal diseases to community members who can’t afford to feed their families, these five charities encourage involvement, volunteerism and monetary donations.
Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research
2990 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
The fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S., pancreatic cancer, according to the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, is one of the few cancers for which survival has not improved substantially over nearly 40 years. What the Hirshberg Foundation does in addition to raising money to advance pancreatic cancer research is provide support to thousands of patients and their families such as doctor and second opinion referrals, treatment facility referrals, financial aid information and emotional support information for patients, families and caregivers. Founded by Agi Hirshberg in 1997, the foundation began funding two projects at U.C.L.A. – the Ronald S. Hirshberg Translational Pancreatic Cancer Research Laboratory and the Ronald S. Hirshberg Chair in Translational Pancreatic Cancer Research. Hirshberg is known in Los Angeles for its annual events — L.A. Cancer Challenge 5k/10k, LA Marathon team for Pancreatic Cancer and Tour de Pier spin (stationary cycling) at the Manhattan Beach Pier.
Children’s Center for Cancer & Blood Diseases
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
4650 Sunset Blvd., #99
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Teen Impact, a program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, benefits teens and young adults that have or once had cancer or a blood disease. Supported by superstar musician Adam Levine, Teen Impact helps to give these kids the opportunity to create a community of friendships, share new experiences and participate in activities including art, ropeclimbing, swimming, co-ed dances and group workshops. The group also offers services for parents and siblings. Teen Impact is free to participants and encourages outside donations through Helping Hands of Teen Impact Affiliates at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
2301 E. 28th St., Suite 303
Signal Hill, CA 90755
Food Finders is a food bank and food rescue program serving the Los Angeles area. This organization works with hundreds of local grocery stores, produce markets, bakeries and restaurants to then distribute unused food to missions, shelters and social service agencies who help to feed the needy and impoverished. Food Finders has a crew of volunteers and staff drivers who deliver about 39,000 meals a day throughout Southern California. Founded by Arlene Mercer in 1989, Food Finders was derived by Mercer’s concern to end food waste. She reached out to local food merchants, grocers and restaurants who were throwing away food, and found a good place for it by donating food to hungry families, children and elderly. During the holiday season, Food Finders hosts a food drive asking the community to donate food items, pet food and hygiene items as well.
Pet Orphans of Southern California
7720 Gloria Ave.
Van Nuys, CA 91406
For 40 years now, Pet Orphans has been rescuing and placing displaced animals in loving homes throughout Southern California. In an effort to support companion animal welfare, Pet Orphans offers a broad range of services through its Humane Education program which includes medical/financial, spay/neuter, training assistance and counseling to reduce animal abuse and encourage responsible pet guardianship. The charity raises money by asking for specific help — $10 for microchips, $25 to help give mom and her babies a warm bed and shelter for one week, $50 for a month’s worth of meals, $100 to spay/neuter rescued animals, $500 to provide medication for special needs, $1,000 to help save a life through emergency medical care and $5,000 for vital medical equipment. Volunteers are vital to the program, and training is provided.
120 Broadway, Suite 105
Santa Monica, CA 90401
The mission of safekeeping and restoring Santa Monica Bay, San Pedro Bay and adjacent waters keeps LA Waterkeeper busy educating, advocating and fundraising. California is facing one of the most severe drought times in its history, which makes LA Waterkeeper very relevant to residents. The organization works to prevent pollution and oil spills, protect coastline species and to prioritize water reuse and recycling. Simultaneously, LA Waterkeeper helps to restore the kelp forest off the shores of Malibu and Palos Verdes, ensure Marine Protected Areas (MPA) and monitor the quality of our water (stormwater runoff and trash surveying). Through volunteer beach clean-ups, drain watchers and MPA watching, as well as donations, LA Waterkeeper is able to help make a difference to protect the waterways and ocean through Los Angeles County.
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Sheryl Craig is a writer with a passion for interesting finds and treasures in Los Angeles. She has a background in journalism and public relations. A mother of two daughters, Sheryl integrates her healthy lifestyle into raising her children. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.