It’s always the season of giving

So here’s how you give back to the community

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As autumn turns to winter and the holiday season begins, people seem to volunteer much more than during the rest of the year. It is the season of giving, after all. 

Helping one’s community can hold many positive effects. Giving back can help save lives, make people happier and reduce our carbon footprint to help our planet as a whole. Some colleges also take volunteer hours into consideration during the admissions process.

Different ways to give back include volunteering at food banks or soup kitchens, donating blood, community clean up and more.  All of these services benefit the community greatly and do not take a tremendous amount of effort.

Food Banks

Manna is a nonprofit food bank in Thousand Oaks that runs on the donations of people community-wide. Residents who are 14 years of age and over can stock and organize the pantry as community service.

Soup kitchens also need volunteers to help wash dishes, serve and prepare food. Even if you don’t have the free time to set aside for helping out, just donating canned goods and non-perishables can be a tremendous help.

Manna accepts unopened, non-perishable food items, non-expired food 12 months before the sell-by date as well as fresh garden food.

During the summer, volunteers and donations to food banks like Manna are needed more than ever due to school lunches not being provided to impoverished families who need them. Volunteers and donations are needed year-round and every little bit helps.

Manna is just one example, but there are many more. Find one in your community.

Donate Blood

Another way to give back to the community is to donate blood. The Red Cross is always open to blood donations with a scheduled appointment. 16-year-olds must have parental permission and anyone over 17 is eligible to go on their own.

Blood donations can help keep many people living including cancer, physical trauma and sickle cell patients and burn victims. Right now there is a shortage of O positive blood. O positive is the most transfused blood type due to it being compatible with over 80 percent of the population. Even though O positive blood is in high demand right now, hospitals always need all types of blood so don’t think that you aren’t needed.

For blood donations, the requirements are only to be in good condition, feeling healthy and to be at least 110 pounds. On top of that, you can donate once every 56 days. According to the Red Cross, the donation only takes 15 minutes.

Community Clean up

A great way to improve a community is to participate in designated clean up events. Events like the California Coastal Cleanup day organize volunteers to help take trash out of our oceans and beaches. Although Oak Park is not a beach town, with Malibu just down Kanan Rd. it is very much a part of our community.

Recycling centers like the California Refund Value Only Store in Agoura offer money for recyclable beverage containers. They take in bottles and cans to be recycled and reused.

The CRV is a fee you pay on these recyclable containers that can be given back if turned in to recycling centers. It’s only about five to ten cents per receptacle, but this can add up if one makes sure to keep track of bottles and cans.

Cleanups reduce the community’s carbon footprint and help reduce trash that would go into oceans and creeks. Sorting recyclables takes more labor than dumping or incineration, which creates jobs that stimulate the local economy.

In the season of giving, it’s important to think about how to help others, but that isn’t to say you should sit idly the rest of the year. The need for donations, whether it’s food, bottles or blood, doesn’t wait for the holiday season. Always be thinking about how you can give back to really help our community thrive.