15 Los Angeles Charities That Need Your Help This Holiday Season (and Always)
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We all thought 2021 would be better than the previous year, but well, let’s just say that we still have some work to do. There are still many Angelenos facing hunger and homelessness, we’re still fighting for social justice, and extreme weather is wreaking havoc around the country. And so, with the holidays upon us, it’s time to help our local communities however we can. One way to do that? Donate time and/or money to one of these worthy causes (plus, science shows volunteering makes us happier, so it’s a win win). We’ve broken this list up into areas of concern so that you can give to a cause that’s near and dear to you, but this is only a brief list—you can also find a more extensive list of worthy Los Angeles charities here.

Not sure how to find your cause? Nonprofit L.A. Works connects people with volunteer opportunities based on their interests, skill set and comfort level. Some of the options include planting trees, serving meals to the homeless, supporting COVID-19 testing, mentoring low-income high school students and chatting with senior citizens on the phone. If you want to help but need some guidance on where to start, L.A. Works can help you find your cause—or you can take our quiz to figure out the right charity for you to devote your time and money to. If the new COVID-19 variant is getting you worried about going out again, there are also many ways to volunteer virtually.

Hunger and Homelessness

1. The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank

This organization south of Downtown collects food and other products and distributes them through charities and direct giving to children, seniors, families and other individuals in need. Since it was founded in 1973, the nonprofit has provided Angelenos with more than one billion meals. They are currently accepting monetary donations and large-scale food donations from distributors and food companies. lafoodbank.org

2. Downtown Women’s Center

The only organization in Los Angeles focused exclusively on serving and empowering women experiencing homelessness and formerly homeless women. While on-site volunteering and certain item donations have been suspended due to COVID-19, financial donations as well as gift cards to downtown grocery stores, Clean Home Kits and snack packs are still needed. You can mail the items to the center or schedule a contactless drop-off. downtownwomenscenter.org

3. The People Concern

One of LA’s largest social service agencies, The People Concern provides interim housing, mental and medical health care, substance abuse services and domestic violence services to homeless individuals, victims of domestic violence and challenged youth. Some ways that you can help both the Downtown and Santa Monica centers: a monetary donation, dropping off quarters to support their laundry program and giving nonperishable food items. thepeopleconcern.org

4. No Us Without You

There’s no doubt that the lockdowns that resulted from the pandemic have greatly affected hospitality workers, particularly undocumented immigrants that form the backbone of this industry and who were unable to get government assistance. No Us Without You launched in LA with the goal of helping back-of-house staff such as dishwashers, line and prep cooks by providing food for 30 families a week, but has now grown to feed over 1600 families. While there are currently no volunteer opportunities due to the pandemic, a donation of $33 can feed a family of four for one week. nouswithoutyou.la

Children

5. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Los Angeles

In Los Angeles County, more than 30,000 children are living in foster care. “CASA/LA alleviates the feelings of abandonment and alienation that scar these young lives by harnessing the compassion and generosity of caring adults who can and do have an enormous impact on the development of the child at all ages,” reads the organization’s vision statement. In-person visits are currently suspended (and the process to become a CASA volunteer is a multi-step and lengthy one) but you can support these vulnerable children by donating money, stocks and securities and various items listed on the organization’s website and Amazon wish list. casala.org

6. Baby2Baby

This organization provides children ages 0 to 12 living in poverty with the basic necessities that every child deserves. Pre-pandemic, one in three families in the United States were already choosing between diapers and food. Add in months of lost income, job losses and lack of access to critical items and, well, the work that Baby2Baby does is more important now than ever. They are currently accepting monetary donations as well as product donations including diapers, wipes, formula and hygiene items (like soap, shampoo and toothpaste) at their Culver City headquarters through contactless drop-off. baby2baby.org

7. The Joseph Learning Lab

With a mission to close the learning gap and reduce the dropout rate in underserved communities, The Joseph Learning Lab needs monetary donations as well as volunteers to tutor low-income elementary children who are at risk of falling behind. As a volunteer, you’ll assist kids with homework and courses in 90-minute online sessions to help close the learning gap and reduce the dropout rates. josephlearninglab.org

The Environment

8. Friends of the L.A. River

“Our mission is to ensure an equitable, publicly accessible, and ecologically sustainable Los Angeles River by inspiring River stewardship through community engagement, education, advocacy, and thought leadership,” reads the organization’s mission statement. Help the cause by becoming a member or participating in an annual river cleanup. folar.org

9. Heal the Bay

The Pacific Ocean and Santa Monica Bay are important parts of our city and it’s overdue that we take better care of them. Heal the Bay was started by environmental advocates in order to protect our coastal waters, in particular Santa Monica Bay. The organization supports educational outreach programs as well as beach cleanup days. Help support this important organization by donating, shopping their gift shop or volunteering for a beach cleanup. healthebay.org

10. Treepeople

The environmental advocacy group inspires and supports the people of Los Angeles to take responsibility for their environment by planting and caring for trees, harvesting the rain and renewing depleted landscapes. Support the organization’s work by becoming a member or becoming a volunteer. treepeople.org

Animals

11. LA Animal Rescue

This non-profit animal rescue currently cares for over 200 domestic and farm animals between their rescue ranch and foster network. Head to their website to find a new furry friend to adopt or help by sponsoring an animal or giving a monetary donation. laanimalrescue.org

12. One Dog Rescue

Special needs dogs often get overlooked but this organization specializes in the rescue, rehabilitation and adoption of these abandoned pups. Head to their website to find a new furry friend to adopt or help by giving a monetary donation. 1dogrescue.com

Equity

13. Los Angeles LGBT Center

The Los Angeles LGBT Center provides health care, social services, housing, education, advocacy and more to members of the LGBTQ+ community in need. You can support their work by volunteering, making a monetary donation or buying some of their (very cool) swag. lalgbtcenter.org

14. Black Women for Wellness

Black women in the U.S. are disproportionately affected by everything from pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths to HIV and it needs to stop. Black Women for Wellness aims to increase health services and influence public policy for Black women and girls, as well as empower them. Help their cause by giving a monetary donation. bwwla.org

15. CIELO

CIELO works with Indigenous communities in Los Angeles to fight for social justice in various ways, including providing language access rights and cultural preservation for these communities. During the past year and a half, the Indigenous communities have been hit particularly hard and CIELO has been instrumental in providing vaccine outreach to these communities in their own language. Support CIELO's work by donating or purchasing their beautiful book highlighting indigenous women and textiles. mycielo.org

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