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Giving Back: Nine places to volunteer this holiday season

Giving Back
ILLUSTRATION BY ISTOCK

It’s the season of giving, so what better time to volunteer? In the November issue of Family Times, we offered some tips for families looking to give back to their community. This month, our staff is highlighting non-profit organizations in Central New York and beyond.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: For years, I have walked in the Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk in honor of a dear friend who lost her battle, and just this year, I lost my beloved cousin to his. As wonderful as the holidays are for the majority of people, there are too many that struggle with a variety of mental illnesses that make this time of year difficult. AFSP works tirelessly to prevent suicide by offering education and preventive programs, and raising funds for research. This organization provides a supportive and open platform that brings a voice to an unseen illness. Just as importantly, they have also created a support group for those grieving, offer an opportunity for us to continue to honor those we love, all while preventing continued loss. If you, or anyone you know, is in crisis, please call 800-273-8255 or text TALK to 741741. – Anne DeSantis, Relationship Manger
More information:
afsp.org.

Forever Friends Animal Rescue: I’ve chosen to highlight Forever Friends because they rescue and foster all kinds of animals, not just cats and dogs. Their adoption process is very thorough so that their animals are sure to be placed in their forever home and not end up back at a rescue or shelter. They’re a non-profit and rely solely on donations to help fund surgeries and care for their animals in need, special needs or not.  And they post regularly on Facebook so that you can see where your donations go, like the progress of any surgeries or rehabilitation some of the animals who are rescued may need. – Karley Harmon, Creative Services Manager
More information:
foreverfriendsny.com.

Griffin’s Guardians: I met Griffin when he was 5 years old years old, not long before he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.  Griffin’s Guardians was born out of his needs and memory by his mom, Erin.  Griffin’s Guardians continues to support children with cancer and their families, both financially and emotionally. Through the tireless work of his mom, and many dedicated staff and volunteers, Griffin continues to live.  What a beautiful legacy for one taken far too young. – Chris Burton, Controller
More information:
griffinsguardians.org

Helping Hounds Dog Rescue: My husband and I recently adopted an 11-week-old puppy from Helping Hounds. It was clear from the start how passionate the organization is about its mission. Helping Hounds brings dogs from overcrowded shelters in Texas and Alabama to Central New York to be adopted, and during each step of the process, ensures they are placed in suitable homes. For me, one of the best parts was watching as the dogs met their new families. And we added another member to our family. – Courtney Kless, Editor in Chief of Family Times
More information:
helpinghoundsdogrescue.org.

Joseph’s House: Joseph’s House has a mission to provide a safe home and family environment for moms and babies who find themselves homeless due to a wide variety of circumstances. During the holiday season, this is especially important because of the cold weather. It’s not easy to think about moms and children not having somewhere to go to at night. The Joseph’s House is providing an essential service for these families getting them some place warm and safe. Aside from providing shelter, the Joseph’s House looks to help the mom develop life skills to position her better to provide for her family. If you’d like to support the Joseph’s House, consider donating to their Baby Bottle Drive by visiting jhfw.org/baby-bottle-drive. – Tim Hudson, Sales Manager
More information:
jhfw.org.

Paralyzed Veterans of America: My dad was a Navy veteran. He lived with Multiple Sclerosis for 35 years. The PVA assisted him in ways I can’t even count: financial assistance with his motorized wheelchairs, tickets to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo event in Boston (which he lived for), along with all the special seating arrangements and assistance/cutting through the red tape with the VA when my Mom needed it. They are spinal cord and MS research advocates, which to me, is huge. Hopefully helping to find a cure so not another person has to live with this disease. – Lesli Mitchell, Advertising Consultant
More information:
pva.org.

Salvation Army – Christmas Bureau: My sister worked at the Salvation Army for years and she was most passionate every year about the annual Christmas Bureau. I was able to see, up close, the way kids lit up when they were able to receive gifts at the annual event. Many of these kids might not have been able to get any gifts on Christmas otherwise. It is very uplifting to see the hundreds of volunteers donating their time to make these kids holiday magical. It’s a true community effort. – Steve Guglielmo, Executive Editor
More information:
salvationarmyusa.org.

Wanderers’ Rest Humane Association: I think it’s really important to give back and protect our innocent animal companions. I especially love this charity because it’s local and we will firsthand see the benefits of a donation of any sort. Every little bit counts. – Hannah Gray, Marketing & Sales Manager
More information:
wanderersrest.org.

Young Life: Syracuse East Young Life is a non-profit outreach organization that connects with adolescents in our community by introducing them to Jesus Christ and helping them to grow in their faith. – Bill Brod, Publisher
More information: syracuse.younglife.org.

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