Opportunities to Volunteer and Spread Joy in San Diego


photo courtesy of 1Must

1Must pairs high school students with refugee children for mentorship and academic tutoring

Zachary Grover, Editor-in-Chief

The holiday season is proclaimed as the “season of giving.” However, we all get so caught up in spoiling our friends and family that we can easily forget about the people that need our help the most. 

   This December, realize we all have plenty to be grateful for and maybe consider getting  away from the hustle and bustle of toys and gift giving. Instead, why not volunteer, to make a big difference in the community around us. That feeling of truly helping people is something getting the top item on your wishlist can’t beat. 

   San Diego has a plethora of volunteer organizations, meaning there are many different causes people can support and even more ways to get involved. Nowadays, after almost two years of isolation, there is no better time to get outside and help the San Diego Community. 

   Through organizations like The Surfrider Foundation or I Love a Clean San Diego, people can attend beach cleanups, picking up trash and plastics that may otherwise get into the ocean, helping save animals, and keeping our beaches clean. 

   The Surfrider Foundation also volunteers to promote beach access and preservation. They communicate with local businesses and restaurants to try and end the use of plastics and promote sustainable materials. Visit their website for ways to get involved (sandiego.surfrider.org).

   The foundation Angel Tree is a program created by the Salvation Army. It pairs donors with children whose parents are incarcerated to buy gifts on children’s wishlists. People can get involved by donating gifts or visiting the Salvation Army website and signing up to deliver gifts to families all across San Diego (westernusa.salvationarmy.org).

   1Must is a student-run non-profit organization that provides San Diego’s underprivileged refugee children with education and mentorship. Every Saturday, the group tutors at Oak Park in City Heights and has a white elephant gift exchange for the children scheduled for December 18 (1must.org). 

   “I’ve never felt the way I feel when working with these kids seeing how much progress they’ve made. They make me feel proud to be working with my community,” said Senior Faiyaj Ahmend, who volunteers with the organization. Students who are interested in volunteering can DM @1must_sandiego on Instagram.

   Through organizations such as Father Joe’s Villages, The San Diego Rescue Mission, and the Lucky Duck Foundation, students can help the homeless, some of the most vulnerable this holiday season through food distribution opportunities on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as well as clothing and food drives throughout the holiday season (sdrescue.org).

   The Lucky Duck seeks volunteers to pass out packs of toiletries, blankets, and water to the homeless (homelessvoice.org). It also has a youth chapter called the Ducklings that fundraises, raises awareness, and volunteers for initiatives to help end youth homelessness (luckyducklingfoundation.org).

   Kidnappings tend to increase during the holidays because of the many people out shopping; women especially are seen as targets. This makes charities looking to free and support survivors of human trafficking very timely. San Diego, unfortunately, ranks in the top eight cities in the nation for sex trafficking, according to a foundation helping sex trafficing survivors (generatehope.org). 

   Organizations based in San Diego, such as Agape International Missions, Love 146, and Generate Hope seek to support victims and stop the trade of women and girls into sexual slavery. They offer opportunities to volunteer at community events and fundraise for safe housing and education. They also offer community and social services for survivors. Attend a webinar or get involved with the San Diego volunteer team of Love 146 by emailing [email protected] (love146.org).

   If you didn’t get a chance to support a non-profit organization this month, or you feel the desire to support a one as the end of the year approaches, here is another option: SmileTrain is a charity that works to fund surgeries for kids to correct cleft lip, a medical condition that occurs when the tissue making up the roof of the mouth doesn’t completely form during pregnancy (smiletrain.org). 

   Here’s an option for dog lovers. Guiding Eyes For the Blind helps train guide dogs for the visually impaired. Donate to name a dog or visit their website to inquire about fostering a dog during their training (guidingeyes.org). 

  Heifer International donates livestock and basic needs like clean water and shelter to families in need all over the world. Their goal is to provide economic development, environmental sustainability, as well as food security and nutrition to the areas of the world that need it most (heifer.org). 

   Look to spread joy and love this holiday season. No matter what holiday(s) you celebrate, this is a season for giving. Organizations like these make an impact on our community and world for those who need it most.