The Season: Volunteer!

By LIZ LEE  |  December 11, 2013

HOW YOU CAN HELP: For those looking to make donations specifically for the holidays, Graziano says one of the most helpful types of donations is a gift card. “Giving people a little bit of a choice, to go to the store and pick up something that they’re really looking for — it makes a big difference,” he says. Warm clothing is also hugely helpful as winter approaches, and drop-offs are accepted Monday through Friday between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm at 160 Broad Street.

For folks looking to volunteer in 2014, Graziano says there are always opportunities. “We try to match the skills of volunteers with the needs of our organization, whether they’re large groups or individuals,” he says. To make a financial contribution or to find out more about volunteering, visit crossroadsri.org. And to learn more about volunteer opportunities at shelters throughout the state, visit the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless at rihomeless.org.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. But women aren’t the only ones affected by this issue. In Rhode Island alone, nearly 10,000 women, men, and children received support services for domestic abuse in 2011, according to the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV). Deb Debare, RICADV’s executive director, says they offer year-round volunteer opportunities at their six different member agencies because “unfortunately, domestic violence does not take a break during the holidays.”

Meanwhile, Erin Gargurevich-Gorman, bilingual housing advocate and volunteer coordinator at Sojourner House , a domestic violence shelter and advocacy center in Providence, says volunteers are especially crucial during the holidays. “We get the majority of our support from volunteers and interns from local universities, which means that during the holidays, many of our volunteers leave for break,” she says. “So we’re extremely appreciative of the help we have during this time.”

HOW YOU CAN HELP: If you want to make a donation specifically for Christmas, Debare says that RICADV, too, finds gift cards extremely helpful. “This way, parents can actually get items that they need, like a winter coat that’s the right style and size for their child,” she says. Other helpful donations include personal hygiene items like soap and shampoo, plus used cell phones that can be refurbished and distributed to folks in emergency situations.

If you’d rather donate your time, RICADV has opportunities for hotline support, child care, courtroom advocacy, and fundraising — all of which require a short mandatory training session. The next session at Sojourner House will take place on January 24 and 25. To donate or to learn more about RICADV’s member agencies and how you can help, visit ricadv.org.

ANIMAL ADVOCACY

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates that between 5 and 7 million abused, neglected, or lost pets enter shelters nationwide each year. At the Rhode Island SPCA , the organization provides shelter to more than 100 cats, dogs, and other domestic animals daily, in addition to providing community education programs, free medical attention for pets of families in financial need, and pet therapy programs to local nursing homes and hospitals.

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