Volunteer opportunities abound

Central Oregon nonprofit organizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

By Mac McLean / The Bulletin / @agingbeat

Published Jan 13, 2013 at 04:00AM

More than a dozen opportunities await Central Oregon residents who want to spend an upcoming day off giving back to their community by helping local organizations with a variety of projects as part of Volunteer Connect’s fourth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Jan. 21.

“Martin Luther King Jr. believed that when you give back to the community, you strengthen it,” said Natasha Smith, an Americorps/ VISTA intern who is running the Day of Service project for Volunteer Connect. Volunteer groups across the country are hosting similar events, she added.

Smith said about 300 people showed up to Volunteer Connect’s last day of service and she expects a similar crowd for this year’s event. Volunteers will work on their projects from 9 a.m. to noon then gather for a luncheon held in the city — Bend, La Pine, Madras, Prineville or Sisters - where they work that will feature a reflective look at Martin Luther King Jr., his legacy and the value of doing service to one’s community.

“Hopefully some people will come back and continue to volunteer throughout the year,” Smith said.

The projects, some of which have age restrictions, available for the Day of Service event include:

• Clearing the clutter: Volunteers In Action Of Central Oregon is hoping to send teams of volunteers who are willing to spend an hour helping senior citizens and disabled adults clean their homes.

St. Vincent de Paul needs help cleaning the refrigerators and other equipment at its food bank and social services facility in Redmond; the Central Oregon Veterans Organization is taking winter clothing donations for homeless veterans; the Prineville Habitat for Humanity Restore is planning a reorganization event that will feature making racks for sinks; the administrators of Bend’s KIDS Center need help recycling their 2012 medical charts so they can be ready for the coming year.

• Building and painting: Saving Grace, a group helping those who have suffered from family violence or sexual assault, is looking for some people to help it tear down a storage shed in Madras and donate its materials; Bend Area Habitat For Humanity needs help building a house for one of its clients; the La Pine Community Kitchen and Grandma’s House need volunteers to help paint their facilities in La Pine and Bend.

• Quilts and crafts: Volunteers with The Bloom Project can spend the morning collecting, processing and arranging flowers into bouquets the organization gives to hospice patients; After School Buddies needs help making quilts for children at the KIDS Center of Bend; the Bend Habitat for Humanity Restore needs creative types to help it make home decor pieces of out “cheap, old stuff.”

• Spreading the word: The Environmental Center of Bend needs volunteers to hang posters advertising its “Rethink Waste Project”; Healthy Beginnings needs people in Bend, La Pine, Madras, Prineville, Redmond, Sisters, and Sunriver to hand out fliers advertising its children’s health screenings.

• Other opportunities: Bend’ Westside Village Middle School and the Brightside Animal Center in Redmond are both offering a range of volunteer opportunities they say are diverse enough so that every person can find something to do that meets their ability levels.

To learn more about these projects or sign up to take part in one visit Volunteer Connect’s website at www.volunteerconnectnow.org/ or call their Bend office at 541-385-8977.

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