Lend a helping hand in a pandemic

Volunteer Pete Carlson, right, checks his delivery route as Bob Locke,Assistant Home Delivery Manager loads lunches into Pete's vehicle at Bella Vida Senior Center on Tuesday. 072120. Dan Watson/The Signal
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The COVID-19 crisis has upended everyday life, including how and where one can volunteer. But the desire for people to give back has not changed for many in the Santa Clarita Valley, who are still looking for ways to help. 

California has slowly reopened its economy since the issuance of its stay-at-home order in mid-March, yet with recent concerns about a surge in cases and the uncertainty of a second lockdown, some may be hesitant and unsure of how to help others or a cause these days.

There are several ways still to volunteer, however, whether in the form of dedicating time, money or supplying goods to those in need, and perhaps is now more important than ever to reach out. State officials have even called on Californians to lend a hand in their communities. 

“We are asking all Californians who are healthy to stand up, to step up and to help connect and make a difference in your community,” said Josh Fryday, California chief service officer, during a precious live state briefing. 

Here are some options to consider that are currently available in and around the Santa Clarita Valley: 

Deliver meals to older adults

The SCV Senior Center at Bella Vida has long offered the service of delivering meals to the local population of older adults but this effort is perhaps more important than ever as vulnerable older adults are at the greatest risk during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Since the onset of the pandemic, health experts have urged them to remain home and practice physical distancing from others outside their households to help reduce their chance of infection. 

To help some in your community receive their meals, you can volunteer with the Senior Center as a driver. 

Volunteer Liz DeAlba prepares lunches for delivery in the kitchen at Bella Vida Senior Center in Santa Clarita on Tuesday. 072120. Dan Watson/The Signal

“Delivering meals is a deeply fulfilling experience,” said Robin Clough, volunteer coordinator at the center. 

Drivers must be at least 21 years old and have five years of driving experience. Volunteers can expect training and can deliver meals once a week, Monday through Friday. Those interested in volunteering on a long-term basis is preferred. The senior center will provide a vehicle. 

Strict COVID-19 safety precautions are maintained, said Clough.

To sign up, contact her at [email protected] or call 661-259-9444. 

Endless opportunities at Bridge to Home

From serving meals to providing haircuts for the homeless, there are numerous opportunities for the community to jump in and help out Bridge to Home — the SCV’s nonprofit dedicated to helping the local homeless population. 

The shelter temporarily moved from its Drayton Street property to the Newhall Community Center to better serve clients. 

Bridge to Home resident adviser Carlos Flores, left, and Camelot Moving & Storage employee Juan Espita set up a cot and personal belongings of a resident in the gymnasium at the Santa Clarita Community Center in Newhall on Thursday, March 26, 202. Dan Watson/The Signal

“There’s an immediate need at the shelter directly for a few nights a week from 6 to 9 p.m., with meal services and helping faculty,” said Randi Wyatt, the volunteer coordinator. 

Residents can volunteer with tasks such as preparing coffee and food as clients are signed in at the shelter, rotating goods in their stock, and other housekeeping items. 

Bridge to Home is also looking for those that can provide services such as hair cuts and activities, such as yoga. 

For those looking to donate, the shelter is currently in need of new blankets, socks and underwear, canned goods and toiletries. Monetary donations can also be made online at btohome.org. For additional information, contact Wyatt at [email protected] 

Drivers and donations wanted 

The SCV Food Pantry is currently in need of drivers to volunteer their time to pick up from local stores. 

All you need is a good driving record, be able to lift up to 50lbs and be comfortable with driving large vehicles. Those interested can expect to help out during the morning hours between 8 and 11 a.m., according to Mario Sierra with the pantry’s office warehouse. 

Jacob Salgy, a volunteer with the SCV Food Pantry, takes a cart full of food donated by the Santa Clarita Valley Corvette Club to the pantry’s warehouse Monday morning. June 22, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

Those interested can expect to be placed in a waitlist as the Food Pantry handles a constant stream of volunteers, he said. 

The nonprofit is also accepting donations, with most needed items including dry beans, rice, canned meats and veggies, pasta and macaroni and cheese. 

For more information, call 661-255-5001. 

Donate blood 

Blood donations are essential and have helped amid the pandemic as the need is always ongoing. 

Red Cross collection technician Monica Guerrero, right, takes the temperature of a potential blood donor during the blood drive held at the Henry Mayo Center at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

Agencies such as the Red Cross and Vitalant have implemented additional safety protocols to ensure a safer process for those looking to donate blood. 

To find out where you can donate, visit californiavolunteers.ca.gov

Foster or adopt an animal 

Consider this: You’ve been having to spend your time at home amid the pandemic. So, why not add a new little furry friend that may be in need of a temporary or forever home? 

Reach out to a local shelter, such as the Castaic Animal Care Center or the Brittany Foundation Animal Sanctuary, that can guide you through the process. 

For more ways on how to adopt, give back or fundraise for animals in need, check out resources with aspca.org

Check on neighbors

The pandemic has taken a toll on many and sometimes the best help we can offer is to simply think of our neighbors and communicate with them. 

If you don’t have their phone number, reach out through the door and consider asking how you can help them or dropping off a treat or a note that lets them know you’re thinking of them— keeping in mind to keep six feet away and to wear face coverings. 

To find out local services that can benefit your neighbors in need or yourself, dial 211. 

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