Archived Story

Give the gift of service this holiday season

Published 5:54pm Sunday, November 28, 2010

In cooperation with the Volunteer Center of Southwest Michigan, the Niles Daily Star will publish opportunities for volunteers each week.  To find out about these or other volunteer opportunities, please call 983-0912 in the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor area, 683-5464 in the Niles area; visit our website at; or e-mail us at for further information. To arrange an appointment, please call ahead. Appointments do not constitute an obligation to accept a volunteer opportunity. The center is a United Way agency.

Spotlight Agencies of the Week
Do you enjoy providing companionship to seniors and people with special needs? Child and Family Services of Southwest Michigan counts on volunteers to prepare and serve snacks, play games, do crafts and spend time with clients in the Adult Day Care program in Benton Harbor. This program makes it possible for these clients to live in the community instead of a nursing home. Make a difference. Call the Volunteer Center to connect.

• Girl Scouts would like you to be a troop leader. Guide girls through activities that are girl-led and include cooperative and hands-on learning. Lead troop meetings, community service activities, field trips and camp outings. You and the girls decide how often you meet and training is provided. Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. There is a troop near you waiting.
• Libraries are magical places for some people. They also provide critical internet access for many. Buchanan District Library has slots for volunteers to assist staff with shelving books. Training will be provided. They are open Monday through Saturday and the times you volunteer are flexible. If you don’t live in Buchanan, your local library would love your assistance as well.
• Blood saves lives. Come be a part of an American Red Cross Blood drive by helping unload equipment and setting up.  Volunteers should be over 18 and able to lift 50 pounds. Volunteers can also play an essential part in getting donors to the drives by distributing posters to businesses and community buildings. Volunteers should be over 18, reliable and have a dependable vehicle. Places and times will vary for both these opportunities so contact the Red Cross for specifics.
• Are you someone who cares about your community and neighborhood? Do you believe that youth in trouble for the first time can positively redirect their lives if given a chance and offered some guidance? Do you believe that victims should be able to speak and be heard with respect? The Berrien County Trial Court Community Restorative Board exists to give juveniles a second chance to learn from their mistakes and develop better decision making skills. As a Community Restorative Board volunteer you can serve close to where you live in Berrien County. High School age youth, middle adults and mature adults are welcome to participate. Volunteers should be over 15, strong role models, compassionate, committed, respectful and patient listeners. Training is required.
• The Boys and Girls Club in Benton Harbor enables young people, especially those who need you most to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible adults. The club offers lots activities for young people including art, drama, computers, games, tutoring, homework help and life skill classes. If sports are your passion, you can become the sports and fitness assistant. You would be responsible for assisting with all aspects of program operations including providing instructions, helping with activities and helping conduct tournaments and contests. Volunteers serve as role models and act as mentors through sports activities with kids 6-18. Sessions run after school until 8:30 p.m. Make a difference in the life of child. You’ll be glad you did. Check out this volunteer opportunity either online at or call the Volunteer Center to connect.
• Safe Shelter is a domestic violence shelter in Benton Harbor. They have more than nine volunteer opportunities so you are sure to find one to match your interests and schedule. Only one day to give? Why not come in and help with childcare while moms participate in support groups or offer to sort donations. Do you a passion and the time to help in a very personal way?  You can work the crisis line. Check out all nine of these opportunities either online at or call the Volunteer Center to connect.
• Are you creative? Would you like a big window as your canvas? The Volunteer Center has been offered a window in downtown Niles to utilize for all of January to promote National Mentoring Month. What a great opportunity to recruit more mentors for our kids.
• Blood saves lives and donations often go down during the holidays. Donate today.

Berrien County Chapter of the American Red Cross
For a complete listing, visit

Michigan Blood
Monday, Dec. 13 — Brookview School, Benton Harbor, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 14 — Bridgman High School, 9964 Gast Rd., Bridgman, 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
For a complete listing visit

Adult and youth
The holidays are here. Are you part of a work, church or school group that would like to do a project, collect items or hold a fundraiser? The Volunteer Center works with more than 300 non-profits in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties and would be happy to connect you to a service project.

Christmas music, delicious cookies and the Salvation Army bell ringers are all part of the holidays for many families. Why not volunteer your family for a few hours to ring the bell? You’ll have fun talking with store customers and know you are doing something good for your community. Opportunities are available in most communities. Don’t forget to dress your family warmly while you help the Salvation Army provide services all year long to families all over southwest Michigan. What kid does not like to make noise … so ring out some holiday cheer! Contact the Volunteer Center to find out about bell ringing in your community.

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