At the Heart of Helping - January 2019 Update
In This Issue:
letterLetter from the President/CEO
...At the Heart of Improving our Mental Health Together

Thank you to everyone who supported us during our year-end campaign ! Your generosity has allowed us to continue promoting kindness and empathy through Operation Teddy Bear and Food For Kids, while supporting the research for our new youth mental health focus. We've also collaborated with partners working at the forefront by participating in Beach Cities Health District's Partnership for Youth Coalition as a member of the Student Mental Health Provider Task Force, speaking to members of Youth Leadership Long Beach about screen time and social media at their class on "Human Relations and Social Justice," and moderating a panel on the youth suicide crisis at the California Purchasers Health Care Coalition (CPHCC) 2019 Conference .

January 2019 Youth Mental Health Events

Maya Smith Quote
We recently held a second Community Input Meeting with local youth to gather more feedback, and the teens reiterated that they are eager to learn and develop coping skills to help balance their use of screen time and improve their mental health. We shared some of the best resources to help them while we're developing new services, and we want to make sure our entire community is aware of these resources as well. Click here to take a look.

We've also been sharing resources on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, including these:

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The Huffington Post recently shared The Best Resolutions You Can Make, According To Therapists, with ways to improve our mental, social and emotional health.
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The Mighty launched the 52 Small Things campaign, encouraging us to "start small and work our way up" when trying to achieve our goals.

We hope you'll join us in practicing improving our mental health, while being kind to ourselves and celebrating our progress!

We look forward to sharing more resources and progress throughout 2019,

Sara Myers
otbCelebrating Operation Teddy Bear Together
...At the Heart of Connecting with Children through Kindness

Operation Teddy Bear 2018

Another year of Operation Teddy Bear is in the books, and it truly would not have been possible without our family of volunteers, donors and sponsors. Together, we provided more than 4,000 local children with our signature schoolbag filled with books, educational supplies and wellness tools, as well as more than 150 first grade teachers with appreciation kits. Volunteers also inspired first grade students at 36 schools during a lesson in kindness, compassion, volunteering and identifying emotions before distributing their surprise gift. The students' reactions to the surprise are often quite boisterous and joyous. Volunteers also love watching the excitement build like in this video with volunteers from Kinecta Federal Credit Union.

There were a few new additions this year. They included a volunteer-made "rekenrek" to assist each first-grader with concepts of math and counting (and calm fidgety fingers), an engineering construction kit to help the students learn to build two and three dimensional shapes, and inserts in a writing journal showing sentence-starters and sight words, all prepared by volunteers from Keenan & Associates. Each teddy bear also had a tag on it to remind the students what they were taught during the lesson: When you feel nervous or afraid, give this teddy bear a big hug and take a deep breath to help you feel better. Watch volunteers from the Port of Los Angeles demonstrate in this video.

We are grateful for the enthusiastic and hard-working volunteers who took the time to distribute the schoolbags and visit with the students, including representatives from our Affinity Group, Bank of America, Beacon House, California Water Service, GreenVetsLA, John Deere, Keenan & Associates, Kinecta Federal Credit Union, Los Angeles Trial Lawyers' CharitiesRudolph J. and Daphne A. Munzer Foundation, Nonprofit Partnership, Port of Los Angeles, Rotary Club of Manhattan Beach, Sandpipers, Simon Law Group, South Bay Junior Women's Club, St. Anthony High School, Valero, Watson Land Company, as well as several individual volunteers. We also want to once again thank our major sponsors and in-kind donors for joining us "at the heart of helping" to make this program a reality! Click here to learn more about Operation Teddy Bear, including a complete list of our sponsors.
ffkA Season of Immense Generosity
...At the Heart of Compassionately Feeding Our Neighbors

Food For Kids January 19

Our food pantry shelves are so well-stocked because of all the generous donations we received during and after the holiday season! Many thanks to the following individuals, groups and companies for joining us "at the heart of helping" with their recent donations to Food For Kids:
  • Esmeralda Babakhani donated 166 pounds of food in memory of her son, Ezra Alix Babakhani
  • The team at DB Schenker in Carson collected and donated more than 300 pounds of food
  • The team at Gebruder Weiss in Torrance collected and donated more than 350 pounds of food
  • Girl Scout Troop 1015 in Manhattan Beach collected and donated nearly 500 pounds of food, helping them earn their Bronze Award
  • Greenlane in Torrance collected and donated more than 100 pounds of food
  • The team at the HealthCare Partners sites in Carson, Gardena, Lawndale, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, San Pedro and Torrance collected and donated more than 750 pounds of food
  • JT Promotions Co. collected donations for Food For Kids at one of their events, which resulted in 179 pounds of food
  • Kaizen Dojo and Halau O Kahealani hosted a combined food drive, donating more than 650 pounds of food
  • Our friends at Kinecta Federal Credit Union donated 111 bags of food - a total of 667 pounds of food
  • Students and parents from The Knowing Garden collected and donated more than 600 pounds of food. They also visited our food pantry during one of their recent field trips, which facilitated a lesson in giving back, kindness, identifying emotions and how Food For Kids operates. See more in this video!
  • The PBS Department at Cedars-Sinai in Torrance collected and donated more than 200 pounds of food
  • P-Lay Cards and Games in Long Beach held a tournament where each participant donated a can of food, resulting in a donation of 130 pounds of food
  • Members of Ray's Tai Chi in Torrance collected and donated 200 pounds of food, as well as a generous monetary donation to Food For Kids
  • Richardson Middle School in Torrance held a school-wide food drive between October and December, collecting and donating 616 pounds of food
  • South Bay Divas in San Pedro hosted a food drive, collecting and donating nearly 1,300 pounds of food, including 77 bags of food that were packed and ready-to-go
You can learn about the latest Food For Kids donations and see other updates when you follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter! For more information about how you too can help, including a downloadable copy of our Shelf-Stable Shopping List, click here. We've also made it easy to support Food For Kids through our Amazon Wish List.
retaildonationsEffortless Donations with Local & Online Stores
...At the Heart of Giving While Shopping

Ralphs and Food4Less Community Rewards
Do you shop at Ralphs or Food 4 Less and use their Rewards Card? Did you know that you can assign the Volunteer Center to your card under "Community Rewards" and we will benefit when you buy groceries? Just another amazing way to support us with the shopping you're already doing - at no cost to you!

If you've already created an account at or and linked your Rewards Card, simply log-in to your account, click 'My Account' at the top right and then 'Community Rewards' at the far left. If you're not yet enrolled in Community Rewards, search for "Volunteer Center South Bay" or our organization code "YJ184." You can also update the organization you're supporting by clicking 'Change Organization' and searching that way! Click here for complete details, including how to register your Rewards Card for either store online.

AmazonSmile Subscription Promo
Plus, in addition to their usual donation on purchases made through AmazonSmile, we will get 15% the purchase price of new print magazine subscriptions purchased through January 31 when you use our AmazonSmile URL! Click here for complete details and click here to learn more about how to ensure we benefit from your purchases.
torranceservesJoin Torrance in Promoting Acts of Kindness
...At the Heart of Boosting Your Mental Health

Did you know that performing acts of kindness is good for your mental and physical health? It produces serotonin and endorphins, which reduces stress, depression and anxiety, among other ailments (learn more here). Being kind is also a great way to encourage empathy - something we teach kids during Operation Teddy Bear!

Halfway Point for Torrance Serves
Here's a chance to reap all these benefits... join the City of Torrance in Torrance SERVES and help the City reach their goal of 100,000 pledged service hours by the end of January! Click here to learn how, including community service ideas.
featuredFeatured Kindness Opportunity
Now through Sunday, February 10

Make Valentine's Day cards for the patients at local hospitals while teaching your kids about kindness and giving back! Click here for complete details, suggested card content and drop-off locations, including our headquarters in Torrance.
The Affinity Group
Battle Creek Community Foundation
California Water Service
Crail-Johnson Foundation
John Deere Foundation
Keenan _ Associates
Los Angeles Trial Lawyers_ Charities
The Molina Foundation
Moog_ Inc.
The Rudolph J. and Daphne A. Munzer Foundation
The Port of Long Beach
The Port of Los Angeles
Torrance Refining Company
Saatchi _ Saatchi
Watson Land Company
Carl E. Wynn Foundation
Whitney Young Children_s Foundation
The Volunteer Center  South Bay-Harbor-Long Beach
Phone: (310) 212-5009 | Fax: (310) 212-7201 |

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Recognizing the value of empathy and service to others, the Volunteer Center has been "at the heart of helping" for more than 50 years, referring thousands of volunteers to both traditional and court-referred service opportunities. The heart of our mission lies in knowing the most urgent, local needs. We discover this by regularly listening to the members of our community. When we discover a critical need is going unmet, we lead the response by assembling a team of caring, talented volunteers to create signature programs, such as Operation Teddy Bear and Food For Kids, which offer members of our community the opportunity to contribute to the solution. Click here to learn more about our new Youth Mental Health focus and how we're tackling this critical community need.