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Thursday, November 04, 2004 - Page updated at 04:23 P.M.
Information in this article, originally published November 4, was corrected November 4. A previous article about holiday volunteer opportunities incorrectly stated that the United Way of King County's Web site has led to 650 volunteer referrals this year. It has actually led to 6,500 volunteer referrals.

How you can help, where to volunteer during holidays

By J.J. Jensen
Seattle Times staff reporter

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It's no secret that the holidays are a time when many people think about helping others.

But volunteering opportunities for the season's special events fill up fast, and people should act soon if they want to use the occasion to get involved in their communities, said Adam Bashaw, spokesman for United Way of King County.

"Everyone wants to volunteer at the holidays, which is great, but the holidays go by quickly and slots are already filled," Bashaw said. "The best advice for holiday volunteering opportunities is to start making plans now."

That's where United Way can help. Since 2002, the community-building organization's Web site has offered one-stop shopping for locating holiday helping options.

The Web site,, lists about 25 agencies seeking holiday aid for everything from preparing and serving Thanksgiving dinners to the homeless to wrapping children's gifts from the Seattle Audubon Society.

Other organizations, including the Church Council of Greater Seattle, also notice an influx of interest around the holidays for volunteer programs like Seattle Youth Garden Works.

"I think the holidays promote more of a generosity and spirit," said Carolyn Cunningham, 38, a year-round volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters, who has also served food at Thanksgiving and operated the holiday carousel at Westlake Park in the past. "There's lots of organizations that have a need for volunteers right now but by the second week in December volunteer options run out."

Where to look for holiday opportunities

Local United Way chapters offer one-stop shopping for finding organizations and agencies that need holiday help. For more information:

King County or 206-461-3655

Pierce County or 253-572-HELP

Snohomish County or 425-921-3459

Bashaw also points out that while there's an abundance of recruits this time of year, "Dec. 26, there's still a huge need."

United Way's Web site also lists more than 1,000 volunteer positions available through nearly 700 local agencies in King County. This year, the site has been visited more than 203,000 times, leading to 6,500 volunteer referrals.

While most local nonprofit agencies and churches keep United Way abreast of volunteer opportunities, Bashaw said, it doesn't hurt to check around with churches and charities for other opportunities.

J.J. Jensen: 206-464-2761 or

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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