Presenting our 2017-2018 Annual Report!
Click here to check out our Annual Report and learn more about the next chapter in the Volunteer Center's 50+ year history!
After you read about our past and future in the Annual Report, we hope you'll join us in making an impact with a donation, so we can continue to meet the needs of our community and be "at the heart of helping" together.
You can also learn more about our new, inspiring chapter with a focus on youth mental health by clicking here.
Throughout September, you can support Food For Kids when you shop at Smart & Final in Torrance! Simply make a $5 or $10 donation at check out at one of the four Torrance Smart & Final stores (17500 Crenshaw Blvd, 21035 Hawthorne Blvd, 2775 Pacific Coast Highway or 21600 S Vermont Avenue). We are so grateful to the team at Smart & Final for their continued support of our programs!
Restocking For the New School Year
We're preparing for the new school year by restocking our food pantry, so we can continue to distribute bags of food to eligible students and their families each week through Food For Kids. We've recently made some updates to our Shelf-Stable Shopping List, so consider taking it with you next time you go to the store and pick up some items to donate! We've also made it easy to support Food For Kids through Amazon.com by creating a Wish List (see full details below).
We accept food pantry donations at our office in Torrance (1230 Cravens Ave.) Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. There are also a variety Food For Kids donation boxes around town thanks to support from the Torrance Community Credit Union, Alex and Ani at Del Amo Fashion Center, Torrance Theatre Company's summer musical at the Armstrong Theatre, and a South Bay Food Drive coordinated by South Bay Mommies and Daddies and Avenue Mama (click here to see a list of participating businesses).
We are so grateful for the support we continue to receive from the local community. In addition to the food drives above, Erika Edwards of E3 Real Estate held one of her regular food drives, donating more than 450 pounds of food in June; the Finance Division of America Honda Motor Co. held their own food drive, donating nearly 450 pounds of food in July; and Margaret Schugt held a donation drive at her birthday party in August, donating nearly 20 pounds of food, as well as dental supplies! If you would like more information on how to hold a food drive of your own or you have a large donation to drop off, please contact Trisha Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 212-5009.
One of the most coveted items in our Operation Teddy Bear schoolbag is the toothbrush. It may seem hard for many of us to believe, but a majority of the students we serve through the program share a toothbrush with family members, if they have one at all. Since we want the students to focus on school, NOT on how they haven't brushed their teeth, we are conducting an Operation Teddy Bear Dental Supply Drive now through September 28! Next time you're at the store, please consider picking up some single, individually-packaged toothbrushes and/or travel-sized toothpaste. Donations can be dropped off in the lobby of our office in Torrance (1230 Cravens Ave.) Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
We've made it easy to support the Dental Supply Drive through Amazon.com by adding items to our new Wish List (see full details below). You can also ask your dentist to donate a box of either or both of these items. Email Liz Reinhardt at email@example.com if you would like a printable request letter to take with you when you visit your dentist.
More Ways to Help with Amazon.com
So many of us do our shopping online these days... if that sounds like you and you're shopping through Amazon.com, we've made it easy for you to support Food For Kids and the Operation Teddy Bear Dental Supply Drive by creating an Amazon.com Wish List! Skim the list here and consider adding something to your cart. These items will be sent directly to the Volunteer Center, and if you use AmazonSmile during check out, we will also benefit from the total purchase (click here for our AmazonSmile donation page or simply set us as the charity you support through this program).
On a Sunday afternoon during the recent heat wave, a cool breeze ran through the back yard of Dr. Michele and Paula Del Vicario. Guests mingled on the lawn, enjoying music by Palos Verdes High School students, as a small army of colorful goats were on parade for all to enjoy. It was the perfect afternoon to celebrate the success of the Affinity Group's unique fundraiser, Kids For Kids, raising more than $20,000 for Operation Teddy Bear!
This project was the brilliant idea of co-chair Sharon Ryan, who headed up the endeavor with her daughter and co-chair, Jennifer Ryan Marshall. We are so thankful for their hard work in coordinating all the details of the project, including the 23 painted or otherwise artistically-created resin goat statues, each one a masterpiece completely unique and different from the next.
Our immense gratitude goes to our friends and neighbors at Destination: Art and the Torrance Artists' Guild for spearheading the goat-art process for a majority of the "kids!" David Wolfram, president of both groups, worked hard to help Sharon and Jennifer recruit many of the artists from their participating members and coordinate related details. We encourage you to visit Destination: Art - a nonprofit gallery in Downtown Torrance - and discover all the wonderful local talent they feature on a regular basis!
A big thank you to the members of the Affinity Group committee - Dianne Bozler, Virginia Butler, Anne Destabelle, Francine Gamble, De De Hicks, Joyce Kochanowski, Jacky Mason and Cherri Olson - who helped Sharon and Jennifer line up the program's sponsors and attended to all the details for this culminating reception with live and silent auctions. The live auction featured five of the "kid" creations, a stay at Terranea Resort, and a child's rocking chair hand-painted by one of the artists, while the silent auction featured more unique artwork. Special thanks to Dave Diestal, a friend of the Affinity Group, who served as auctioneer complete with witty repartee.
The afternoon featured remarks by the Volunteer Center's President/CEO Sara Myers and the Affinity Group's President, De De Hicks. Both spoke about the impact of Operation Teddy Bear, and De De also thanked the afternoon's hosts, Dr. Michele and Paula Del Vicario, along with everyone else who made the fundraiser a success.
We encourage you to visit kidsforkidsotb.org to see all 23 "kids" and learn about the artists who created them. The website also acknowledges the fundraiser's generous sponsors and everyone who made this fundraiser a success!
Providing Food For Kids On Summer Break
During the school year, we help children and their families at nine partner schools by providing them with bags of food to take home over the weekend. The students we serve receive breakfast and lunch through the Free and Reduced Meal Program during the school day, and then our Food For Kids program helps them with meals on Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately, summertime creates a bigger challenge for the students who no longer have access to school-based programs.
Luckily, many of our fellow agencies provide a Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) that ensures that these same students continue to receive meals at SFSP sites when school is not in session. We recently met with one of these agencies, SBCC Thrive LA in Wilmington, and found they were a terrific match that would allow us to help fill this need by once again offering our support to a local SFSP program during the summer. We have partnered with them to provide 60 bags each week over seven weeks, benefitting the students participating in the SBCC's summer tutoring program. These students range from Kindergarten to 8th grade, representing schools in Torrance, San Pedro and Wilmington.
We need you to help us continue to feed students and families in need this summer! Click here to learn more about how you can support Food For Kids through food donations and/or food drives, and to download a copy of our Non-Perishable Food Shopping List.
The Volunteer Center recently awarded eight $500 Durfee Family Scholarships to local high school seniors to assist them with the cost of classes and materials during their first year of college, in collaboration with the College Access, Readiness and Success (CARS) Scholarship Foundation at Leuzinger High School, the Palos Verdes Junior Women's Club Scholarship Program and the Sandpipers College Scholarship Program.
In addition to strong academic performance, these students were selected for showing a continued passion for serving their community despite personal and family challenges:
CARS Scholarship Foundation
- Ana Perez - Leuzinger High School/UCLA
- Alexis Rodela - Leuzinger High School/Cal State Northridge
PV Junior Women's Club Scholarship Program
- Katherine Cruz - Peninsula High School/LA Harbor College
- Grace Gay - Chadwick/Syracuse University
Sandpipers College Scholarship Program
- Emily Diaz - Hawthorne High School/UC Santa Barbara
- Kyndall Dowell - Leuzinger High School/UC Berkeley
- Stevie Schlosser - South High School/Point Loma Nazarene University
- Udochi Okori - Hawthorne High School/Kalamazoo College
The Durfee Family Scholarships were established in 1998 thanks to a generous endowment gift made by the late Ev Durfee, a past Volunteer Center Board Member and longtime supporter. We wish all of our scholarship recipients success as they embrace their bright futures ahead!
We are proud to be a part of a citywide effort to promote volunteerism in Long Beach. Residents are encouraged to give back and donate time to helping the nonprofits in Long Beach and share their experiences with the hashtag #LBServes.