Volunteer in the New Year
From park restoration projects to harvesting food for the homeless, there are many ways to give back in and around Newport Beach.
Feed the Needy
More than 335,000 people in our community — including one in five children — are at risk for hunger each month, according to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. At the nonprofit facility, which aims to put food on the table for those in need, there are many ways volunteers of all ages can lend a helping hand: Get growing at the Incredible Edible Farm, which provides nutritious food to shelters, schools, mobile pantries and church kitchens; work to load these healthy meals on wheels at the Food Distribution Center; or get involved in public events by spreading awareness to help end hunger in our community. For information and to sign up, visit feedoc.org
Light The Way
With the mission to “build self-sufficient lives for the health of our community,” Orange County United Way works with partnering organizations to help those in crisis by providing access to food, shelter and medical care; by paving a path to education; and by enabling financial stability through employment. “First, we support a safety-net of care to ensure that basic needs are met today,” the organization’s mission statement says. “Second, we support solutions for long-term change focused on education and financial stability to move people from dependency to self-sufficiency.” United Way seeks volunteers in several categories, from fundraising and retail operations to tutoring and preparing taxes. Some services are one-time only; others are ongoing. To discover how you can help, visit unitedway.org
A Day By The Bay
A family volunteer day outdoors is a great way to give back to the community that teaches kids how to be stewards of the earth. Help preserve and restore Upper Newport Bay’s habitat with its Nature Preserve staff during the Second Sunday Restoration Program, beginning Jan. 8. From 9 to 11:30 a.m., you’ll pull non-native plants and plant healthy, native species; clean up trash; and help maintain the beautiful Butterfly Garden. Kids younger than 16 must be accompanied by an adult; parents, that means you’re on the hook, too! Pack gloves, a hat, sunscreen and healthy snacks. Water and tools are provided. To register, visit letsgooutside.org
Earth Day Celebration
Earth Day is Sat., April 22. Last year, California State Parks hosted an Earth Day “garden party” at Crystal Cove State Park, working to beautify the Historic District. Volunteers of all ages and skill levels weeded, watered, planted and painted, and then held picnics around this scenic seaside park. No Earth Day plans have been finalized yet, says naturalist and volunteer coordinator Winter Bonnin, but check back in early spring for details: 949-497-7647; firstname.lastname@example.org
Each September, several organizations host California Coastal Cleanup Day, as part of the Ocean Conservancy’s international effort to remove trash from oceans, lakes and other waterways. Last year, nearly 80,000 volunteers removed more than 18 million pounds of garbage and recyclables, according to the Conservancy’s website. What’s littered on our streets winds up in our oceans: Trash travels via wind and rain, through sewers, storm drains and inland waterways. What’s not removed winds up on our beaches, and if not removed, in our oceans. “Beach cleanups are a last line of defense,” the website says, “To prevent debris from causing harm to our oceans, to wildlife, to our coastal economies, and even to beach-goers.” Such organizations as Surfrider (newportbeach.surfrider.org), the Eco-Warrior Foundation (eco-warrior.org) and California State Parks (parks.ca.gov) host ongoing beach cleanups to help keep our coasts clean and our oceans safe.