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Seven Ways to Give Help and Hope

Local nonprofits seek volunteers for winter months

Every year, when the holiday season arrives, local shelters and soup kitchens find that their volunteer inquiries spike, says Sue Marsh, the executive director of the Boston-based women’s shelter Rosie’s Place. That’s the good news. The bad news, says Marsh, is that after Thanksgiving and Christmas volunteer interest takes a dive, leaving many organizations seeking donations and workers to keep their programs running. “Women are hungry and homeless every day of the year,” Marsh says, “and we’re always looking for volunteers.”

Below is a list of local organizations where members of the BU community can volunteer — now, later, and any time.

BU Student Food Rescue
Founded in 1988, BU Student Food Rescue collects 150,000 pounds of food a year from local restaurants, supermarkets, bakeries, and coffee shops and delivers it to area food pantries, shelters, and low-income housing facilities. Students make 22 two-hour food runs every week. Volunteers must commit for at least one semester. Part of BU’s Community Service Center, which offers several volunteer opportunities to the University community, SFR works closely with the local organizations Community Servings and Fair Foods. For more information, call 617-353-4710 or e-mail sfr@bu.edu.

Boston Rescue Mission
A nondenominational Christian initiative, the Boston Rescue Mission, at 39 Kingston St., Boston, has aided the homeless and poor of greater Boston since 1899. The Mission offers food, shelter, and social service programs to homeless men, women, and children and provides them with the necessary support, training, and resources to eventually sustain independent living. For more information, contact volunteer coordinator Demetri Yannopoulos at 617-338-9000, ext. 1230, or e-mail dyannopoulos@bostonrescuemission.com.

Community Servings
Community Servings, 18 Marbury St., Jamaica Plain, delivers free meals to people with HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses who are unable to shop or cook for themselves. Volunteers contribute more than 750 hours each week to prepare, package, and deliver 1,300 meals to homes throughout eastern Massachusetts. Kitchen, van, and Saturday-delivery volunteers are all needed. For more information, contact volunteer recruitment coordinator Viral Sheth at 617-522-7777, ext. 228, or e-mail vsheth@servings.org.

Fair Foods
Since 1988, Fair Foods has transported daily truckloads of usable surplus goods to low-income communities in eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. With the help of more than 200 volunteers, the Dorchester-based organization recycles grocery-quality fresh food and high-grade building materials and delivers them to government agencies, public housing developments, youth organizations, religious groups, community health centers, schools, and food pantries seven days a week. For more information, contact Nancy Jamison, executive director, at 617-288-6185 or e-mail njamison@fairfoods.org.

New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans
The New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, 17 Court St., Boston, is the nation’s first and largest veteran-specific homeless shelter and has provided aid to more than 12,000 veterans. The shelter, which opened in 1990, seeks volunteers for a variety of tasks, including serving meals, administrative duties, and tutoring. For more information, contact the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans at 617-371-1800 or e-mail info@neshv.org.

Little Brothers–Friends of the Elderly
Little Brothers–Friends of the Elderly is a national, nonprofit, volunteer-based organization committed to relieving isolation and loneliness among the elderly. On major holidays — Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter — volunteers provide companionship and deliver nutritious meals, food packages, and flowers to the elderly. Volunteers also serve as partners in the intergenerational matching program, as social and emergency support staff, and as hosts, cooks, and drivers for parties and events held at the Little Brothers’ house, 3305 Washington St., Jamaica Plain. For more information, visit the organization’s Web site.

Rosie’s Place
A shelter for poor and homeless women, Rosie’s Place opened in 1974 to help women maintain their dignity, seek opportunity, and find security in their lives. The shelter, at 889 Harrison Ave., Boston, serves women as young as 18 and as old as 80, and about a third of its guests have children. Volunteers work in every department and annually donate what would be the work of 21 full-time staff members. Volunteer opportunities are available in the kitchen, clothing room, food pantry, classroom, and more. For more information, contact Rosie’s Place at 617-442-9322.

Vicky Waltz can be reached at vwaltz@bu.edu. Jessica Ullian can be reached at jullian@bu.edu.