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Letters: A 'right' way to volunteer?

January 25, 2013

Re "Make your volunteering count," Opinion, Jan. 21

Nina Eliasoph says single-day volunteering that addresses the consequences of a social ill doesn't work for the long term. She doesn't address is the issue of getting donors' attention for long-term solutions.

Getting kids off the streets after school is a good thing, and keeping them in school and having them go on to higher learning is the best thing. The problem is, if you keep 1,000 kids busy after school, you can easily attract support, but if you help a couple hundred stay in school and graduate, you can't.

If a small program making permanent changes were fully supported, it could be grown to help many more members of the community help themselves, thereby helping the entire community. We need to know what types of programs actually produce long-term change, giving those efforts a fighting chance to survive.

Nancy Evers Kirwan

Los Angeles

The writer is boardmember of the Neighborhood Youth Assn.

Eliasoph missed the point about Big Sunday.

As it happens, Big Sunday's mission is not volunteering; rather, it is "community service as a means to community building." The idea is that everyone has some way to help somebody else, and that by working together we can begin to make the world a better place. Many continue their work with nonprofits they were introduced to at a Big Sunday event.

At Big Sunday, we felt that offering an opportunity to celebrate President Obama's second inauguration was a wonderful way to bring all kinds of people together for a common goal, especially after a divisive election. We offer more than 1,000 such opportunities each year. This time, the goal happened to be collecting and sorting clothes for the needy. This was done by more than 100 people, demonstrating what we can accomplish when we all work together.

David T. Levinson

Los Angeles

The writer is the founder and executive director of Big Sunday.

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