There are area coalitions throughout Southern California that provide services for the homeless, according to Maurine Kornfeld, chairman of the Countywide Coalition on the Homeless, 646 S. Los Angeles St., Los Angeles 90014.
Among the areas are Hollywood, Long Beach, Oxnard/Ventura, Pasadena, San Fernando Valley, West Los Angeles and Whittier.
"These local coalitions are very effective," Kornfeld says, "because they understand the problems of their own communities and know the resources that are available locally."
The Countywide Coalition meets monthly at United Way, 621 S. Virgil Ave., Los Angeles. For information about local coalitions, telephone (213) 625-2501.
Following are some suggestions that summarize the advice of those who work with the homeless:
--Do try to give what you'd like to receive.
--Don't haphazardly give food, clothing and money. It can do more harm than good.
--Do work with existing agencies. They have the experience to use your donations most effectively.
--Don't try to do it personally, taking your children to see poverty firsthand. It's very demeaning to the poor.
--Do give practical, realistic gifts that will make sense to the homeless.
--Don't give discards such as soiled clothing or broken toys. They are more of an insult than a gift.
--Do give gracefully. It's not just what you give but how you give it.
--Do try to remember the homeless at other, leaner times of the year.