Lend a hand on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Published 10:17 pm Wednesday, December 8, 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 theNiles area; visit our website at www.volunteerswmi.org; or e-mail us at volunteer@volunteerswmi.org 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

Got lunch? Kids at Sorter Elementary School in Benton Harbor and at New Buffalo Elementary School are waiting for you to join the Big Brothers Big Sister Lunch Buddy program. Join your “little” one day a week for lunch and to chat. These kids look forward to their lunch date and are waiting for you to contact Big Brothers Big Sisters. Mentoring through Big Brothers Big Sisters is proven to be life-changing for the children served and for the adults as well. Opportunities available at other schools throughout southwest Michigan.


• Are you off work on Martin Luther King Day? Would you like to be part of an effort to honor his memory and promote volunteerism? Please contact the Volunteer Center to learn how you can get involved.

• Do you ride the bus?  Would you like to learn more about Dial-a-Ride and the bus system? The Disability Network Southwest Michigan has a unique opportunity for volunteers with disabilities to act as a transportation advocate. Volunteers ride the local buses and provide feedback to the local transportation authority. Together, we can improve the transportation system and make it more accessible for all. Make an impact in the community while running errands or going to work.

• Did you know that proper dental care can have an enormous impact on the overall health and well-being of preschoolers? Sometimes providing the dental care still isn’t enough. Without reliable transportation some moms aren’t able to get their young ones to the dentist. Would you like to help? When you volunteer as a driver for the Department of Human Services in Berrien, Cass or VanBuren counties, you help a child get a good start. There are also opportunities to transport adults and others to various medical appointments in all areas at various times that fit your schedule.

• Friends of New Troy promote community well being by operating a community center and providing area residents opportunities to better themselves and the community. You can help in the book room by choosing a shift Monday through Saturday. You will check books and other materials in and out and assist patrons.

• 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.

• Are you a friendly person who would like a volunteer opportunity for February and March only? Why not consider being a greeter for the Earned Income Tax Coalition at a site near you? Working families come to various sites throughout Southwest Michigan for free help with their taxes and you can be the first friendly face they see. Contact the Volunteer Center for more information.

• Michigan Blood volunteers make sure that local hospitals have the needed blood supply. You can help with the blood drives by assisting with set up, handing out cookies and juice to donors, or other duties. They called the Volunteer Center just last week to let you know that they need more volunteers.

• 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 www.berrienredcross.org.

Michigan Blood

• Monday, Dec. 20 — Niles-Buchanan YMCA, 905 North Front St., Niles, noon to 6 p.m.

• Tuesday, Dec. 21 — APL Logistics, 4412 Coloma Rd., Coloma, noon to 4 p.m.

For a complete listing visit www.miblood.org.


• 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.

• Winter is just starting but summer will be here before you know it. Be involved now in planning for 2011 Relay for Life. The American Cancer Society would love your help.

• Many organizations including Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency in Benton Harbor and Helping Hands of Cassopolis are busy this time of year packing food boxes for families in need. Although hunger is not something we think of as a problem in our town, every day 33 million Americans do not get enough to eat.  Food baskets also allow families to spend food money on other necessities such as heating bills or medicine. Hunger is everywhere, so contact the Volunteer Center to help feed the hungry where you live.