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T he upcoming holidays, occasions for festive gatherings of families and friends, can be sad times for those who are homeless, out of work or ill.

Many of the agencies that provide assistance and care go all out to brighten the season for children, the elderly and the needy. Volunteers and donations make it possible.

We couldn't include every agency, so if you don't see your neighborhood or area of interest listed, contact county or city volunteer agencies.


* Helping hands are needed to serve Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners at many agencies. Among them: Downtown Women's Center, 325 S. Los Angeles St. Call Kimberly Mason, (213) 613-0761; Homeless Care Project, 3324 Sunset Blvd. Bob Suazo, (213) 661-1963, and Good Shepherd For Homeless Women, 267 N. Belmont Ave. Sister Julia Mary, (213) 250-5241. For other opportunities to serve meals, contact Shelter Partnership Inc. at (213) 688-2188.

* L. A. Works is recruiting people to serve holiday meals at the Los Angeles Mission, Meals on Wheels (Westside), Salvation Army Santa Monica, Sunset Hall and the Fred Jordan Mission. You can also volunteer to wrap and deliver gifts to impoverished families. Information: Julie Prejean, (213) 936-1340.

* Project Angel Food needs volunteers to prepare and deliver Thanksgiving meals for homebound people with AIDS. Cooking takes place between 9 a.m. and noon, delivery before 12:30 p.m. Participants use their own cars and must have liability insurance. Information/sign-up: (213) 656-1986.

* Los Angeles Mission can turn a $15.70 donation into Thanksgiving dinner for 10 needy people. Information: (213) 629-1227. Checks may be mailed to Los Angeles Mission, P.O. Box 21448, Department ATQ05, Los Angeles, Calif. 90021.

* Los Angeles Regional Food Bank collects and donates food to charities. Get your school, friends or company involved by setting up barrels for holiday giving. Needed are canned goods, peanut butter in plastic containers and other non-perishable items. Volunteers are needed to sort food. Information: (213) 234-3030, Ext. 144.

* Salvation Army, Southern California Division, is looking for people to help out with delivery of toys and food baskets and to serve dinners at shelters. Information: Toni Short, (213) 627-5571.

* North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry collects and provides food to needy families. Donations of non-perishable food are needed. Information: (818) 980-1657.

* St. Vincent Meals on Wheels will use a $15 donation to provide hot meals for three senior citizens. For $60, 12 people can be fed. Information: (213) 484-7775. Checks may be mailed to St. Vincent, 2131 W. Third St., Los Angeles, Calif. 90057.


* Ocean Park Community Center in Santa Monica offers a network of emergency shelters and services for homeless adults and families, runaway and abused youth, battered women and others. Its Homeless Drop-In Center for adults and families needs new toys, men's, women's and children's clothing, underwear, diapers, toiletries, tote bags, kitchen appliances, grocery certificates, canned food and blankets. Information: (310) 450-4050.

* Haven House, a shelter for battered women and children, would be grateful for a frost-free refrigerator, gas stove, a 19-inch television set, women's and children's clothing and shoes and new toys for children of all ages. Information: Sheila Halfon, (818) 564-8880.

* Sojourn Shelter for Battered Women and Their Children, a facility of the Ocean Park Community Center, seeks diapers (all sizes), washcloths and towels, toothbrushes, toothpaste, radios, detergent, cassette players and pots and pans with lids. Information: (310) 399-9232.

* Turning Point Shelter and Daybreak Day Center and Shelter are other Ocean Park Community Center agencies. Turning Point, a 35-bed shelter for homeless men and women, can use underwear, socks, jeans, sweaters and jackets. Information: (310) 394-3947. Daybreak serves homeless mentally ill women who are in need of underwear, bras in all sizes, socks, tennis shoes, shirts, jackets, cosmetics and toiletries. Information: (310) 450-0650.

Help a Child

* Red Cloud American Indian Society, Inc. sends Christmas gifts to children and teens in North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Arizona. Needed: heavy jackets, sweaters, jeans, shoes, grooming items, purses, wallets, makeup, hair care items, watches, toys and games, art supplies, school supplies and sports equipment. Major item: a truck to deliver donated gifts. Information: (714) 833-3865.

* Great Beginnings for Black Babies can use donations of items for infants--undershirts, gowns, pajamas, receiving blankets, crib blankets, towels and washcloths, baby lotion, oil and powder. Information: (310) 419-8272.

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