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January 2024

"Touching Hearts and Opening Minds"

Letter From Our President/CEO

We are excited to begin this new year with a renewed focus on our mission to spread empathy and kindness throughout the South Bay Community. The Volunteer Center was established by the Junior League of Long Beach, and later this year, we can't wait to share some exciting updates to our programs in our Long Beach location. 

We have all witnessed how challenging this past year has been for many families and communities. It was inspiring to see groups of all ages, from The Woman's Club and Affinity Group to Cub Scouts, National Charity League, South Bay Food Initiative, and faith communities like Journey of Faith, Tried-stone, and Temple Menorah, to name a few - all unite to provide nearly 100,000 meals and over 1,700 hours of volunteerism to combat hunger in our schools. 

In 2023, over 6,400 clients completed their court-referred community service hours with our nonprofit partners throughout the South Bay. Operation Teddy Bear impacted 36 schools, distributing over 3,000 literacy bags with a powerful lesson on empathy. Looking forward to 2024, we are happy to expand Operation Teddy Bear to serve over 4,000 students and ensure no schools remain on the waitlist for our Food For Kids program. None of this would be possible without your support and volunteerism.

Thank you for putting your empathy into action, and we hope to see you at our upcoming events below.

With gratitude,

Josh Gezahegn



Upcoming Events

Operation Teddy Bear

January 4 through March 15


Operation Teddy Bear 2024 is now in full effect and has a goal to distribute literacy school bags to over 4,000 children. Each brightly colored school bag includes reading books, Steam kits, coloring books, learning clocks, paint sets, pencils, math flashcards, a toothbrush, and, of course, a Teddy Bear. When the gifts are delivered to a classroom, volunteers also take the time to visit and read stories to the children. 

Join us in packing the school bags and delivering them to schools this spring.

Sign-Up to Volunteer

Impact Makers Spring '24

Beginning Week of February 19th

Impact Makers - Building Skills for Life is a social-emotional wellness and service-learning program to help youth gain a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them. 

Impact Makers launched its current model in the fall of 2022 and has served 53 teen participants to date. Open to all high school-age students throughout the South Bay

Learn more info at the link below and sign up today.


Heart to Heart Gala

Seaside Soirée

April 27, 2024, 6 pm - 10p

The Volunteer Center is excited to host our renowned Heart-to-Heart fundraising event at the Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club in San Pedro.

The proceeds raised will help us fund our signature programs. It is a fantastic night of dinner, dancing, auctions, and games of chance.

Tickets are now on sale.

We are also offering underwriting and sponsorship opportunities for this event.


Congratulations Fall '23 Impact Makers!

Congratulations to our Impact Makers for completing over 227.5 hours of volunteerism and social-emotional learning. We were all incredibly moved by their presentation and stories. Some of the youth summarized it this way:

"I learned about all of the different resources I can share with others and also use myself. I also learned how hunger is a real issue that isn't properly taken care of yet, today has inspired me to look into solving our community's hunger."

"Participating in this program helps me know that I am very lucky to have the things I have now and that I have the ability to help more people."

Way to go Impact Makers. We can't wait to see how you continue to make a difference! A special shout out and thank you to Lea Ann King, Melissa Hogan, Macy Grim, Silas Cole, and the program committee for making this cohort a success.

Thank You to Our Loving Hearts Donors:

The following supporters have given $500 or more from July to December 2023

Jean Adelsman

Eric & Christine Alegria

Janet Baszile

Pauline Beecroft

Denise & Vince Beggs

Dianne & Hans Bozler

in loving memory of our nephew

Colin Tyler Arbuckle

Anne & Ray Destabelle

Pat Furey

Jane & Jim Isomoto

Robert Hall

The Holt Family

Denise Hunt

Audrey King & Muller Co.

Lea Ann King

Ellen & Bob Kircher

Connie Robinson

Fern Ruiz

Lori Tonder

Kay Wardell

Lisle Working

Las Vecinas Group

Steve Yeager & Samuel Sampson

Thank You to Our Loyal Hearts Donors:

The following supporters make an automatic donation every month to support our programs


in honor of all the children and families

Jean Adelsman

Barbazette Family Trust

Pauline Beecroft

Denise & Vince Beggs

Dianne & Hans Bozler

in loving memory of our nephew

Colin Tyler Arbuckle

Anne & Ray Destabelle

in honor of Dianne and Hans Bozler

Sue Herbers

The Holt Family

Jane & Jim Isomoto

Mildred Jones

Susan Kettel

in honor of Richard Kettel

Ellen and Bob Kircher

Sherry Kramer

in honor of Lilyanna Kramer

Trish Krusee

in honor of Adam Heath

Cari Lesser

Sue Munson

Pamela Popovich

Liz Reinhardt

Susan Rubio

Fern Ruiz

Steve Yeager & Samuel Sampson

Together - We're Feeding Our Community

Affinity Group - 174 meals

Alissa Winkler - 11 meals

Anonymous - 1,262 meals

Brenda Williams - 81 meals

Caleb Chao Collection - 115 meals

Cardoza Family - 48 meals

Carson Lions Club - 858 meals

Coleen Valdez - 21 meals

Debbie Simmons Clothing & Toy Donation - $800

Denise Beggs Neighbors - 41 meals

Drevno - 358 meals

El Segundo High School - 177 meals

Fern Ruiz - 153 meals

Forward Giving Circle - 318 meals

Gail Vranicar - 86 meals

GS Troop 543 - 143 meals

Hadassah - Congregation Ner Tamid's Sisterhood - 543 meals

Hans & Dianne Bozler - 137 meals

Honda FCU - 458 meals

Jackie Morley & Friends - 108 meals

Jean Adelsman & Friends - 106 meals

Keenan - 460 meals

Kimberlee Elliot - 64 meals

Kris Barba - 63 meals

Laurie Brandt Red Car Brewery - 70 meals

Malaga Bank - Sasha - 440 meals

Margaret Li - 18 lbs of school supplies

Masha Krakovskaya & Friends - 164 meals

Michael's Murder Motel - 252 meals

Miles's Birthday Collection - 101 meals

Model A Club - 1,060 meals

The Muller Company - 1,278 meals

North High (Torrance) Cereal Collection - 4,273 meals

Optum - 3,895 meals

Palos Verdes Peninsula High School - 1,051 meals

Phelps Family - 126 meals

Prudence Fenton - 641 meals

Revival Center Triedstone Church of God In Christ - 492 meals

Sandpipers - 772 meals

South Bay Food Initiative - 2,391 meals

South Bay Food Initiative PV High Chapter - 1,438 meals

St. Matthews Church- 52 meals

Sue Walters - 9 meals

Torrance Woman's Club - 1,089 meals

Total Meals Donated: 25,380

Thank You to Our Major Corporate and Foundation Grantors:

(Gifts Made in Support of VC Programs July 2023 - December 2023)

Smith-Welsh Foundation

The Sharma Foundation

The Volunteer Center galvanizes the community to create an umbrella of care where it is needed most. We use six decades of collaboration and partnerships to broaden our impact and truly understand the most urgent needs. Right now, those needs are youth mental health, food insecurity, and social inequality. We offer programs that use the power of empathy to touch hearts and open minds through meaningful volunteer experiences and service. We know that a community of lifelong, resilient volunteers will create a more kind, connected, and equitable world where we all can thrive.

To learn more about our programs and impact, visit volcenter.org

The Volunteer Center South Bay/Harbor/Long Beach

310-212-5009 | 1230 Cravens Avenue Torrance, CA 90501 | volcenter.org

EIN: 95-2301600