Helping Works

Fish and Game needs volunteers for sagebrush seed collection

Sagebrush, a native key to wildlife habitat, needs your help. Volunteers have begun seed collecting to restore burned landscapes.
Sagebrush, a native key to wildlife habitat, needs your help. Volunteers have begun seed collecting to restore burned landscapes. Statesman file photo

The Soda Fire that burned across 280,000 acres in Southwest Idaho and southeast Oregon damaged critical habitat for sage grouse, mule deer and many other wildlife species. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is asking for the public’s help to rehabilitate this key landscape.

“This is a great excuse to get outside and enjoy the outdoors during the shortest days of the year, while doing something great for wildlife,” said Michael Young, volunteer coordinator at Fish and Game.

Seed collection efforts will take place on a series of Saturdays, including Nov. 21, Dec. 5 and Dec. 12. Young hopes to collect around 1,000 pounds of sagebrush seed during the collection outings.

Sign up to help online or contact Young at 208-327-7095 or email

Hanukkah prep at Home Depot

Chabad Jewish Center of Idaho hosts a Kids Menorah Workshop from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22, at Home Depot, 1200 Milwaukee St. in Boise. The event, which includes music, latkes and other edible treats, is free. It’s open to kids of all ages. Parents need to accompany their children. RSVP at 853-9200 or email

Film screening fundraiser for Agency for New Americans

The documentary “7 Days in Syria” tells the story of a journalist, Janine di Giovanni, who traveled to Syria to report on the plight of people there, even though it was recognized as the most dangerous country on earth for journalists. The screening will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, at The Flicks, 646 Fulton St. in Boise. Tickets are $12, with proceeds benefiting Agency for New Americans, one of the local agencies that resettles refugees in the Treasure Valley. Tickets are available in advance or at the door. The event also includes a raffle with a Boise State football package, gift certificates to local restaurants, bike tuneups, yoga packages and more.

Boise Parks and Rec needs volunteer leaf-rakers

Volunteers are needed from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, to participate in the city’s annual Rake Our Parks event. Volunteers can form their own team or be teamed with other volunteers. Bring a rake and a pair of warm work gloves. Dress for the weather. Leaf bags will be provided. Sign up online or contact Jerry Pugh via email at or call 208-608-7617.

Bikers, Marine Corps reservists kick off Toys for Tots season

Local motorcyclists and reservists joined forces for a special ride on Nov. 1 from Meridian to Boise to raise awareness of the annual effort that collects thousands of toys each holiday season for kids in need. Last year, Toys for Tots provided more than 60,000 new toys for kids in need.

You can pitch in, too. On Dec. 5, the Marines will be at Century Link Arena for the annual Idaho Steelheads Teddy Bear Toss. A benefit concert at Hannah’s on Main Street will take place immediately after the game. There is a suggested donation of $5, with all proceeds going to Toys for Tots.

Visit the Toys for Tots website or contact Jeremy McCormick, Toys for Tots warehouse coordinator at 208-422-3039 or email

Like to help others? Not afraid of tax forms? AARP needs you

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide needs volunteers at every level of experience who want to stay sharp while giving back. Tax volunteers will receive training before working with taxpayers. Volunteer shifts are also available for on-site greeters, those who are skilled in technology, translators and more.

The program, now in its 48th year, is the largest free tax-assistance and preparation service in the country. It serves lower-income and older taxpayers, though taxpayers don’t need to be members of AARP or retired to get help.

Last year in Idaho, 278 AARP Foundation Tax-Aide volunteers helped more than 32,000 people file their federal, state and local tax returns. The program is offered at approximately 48 sites in Idaho including senior centers, libraries and other convenient locations.

For more information, visit or call 208-651-6635.

Be a Santa to a Senior

Home Instead Senior Care is teaming up with local nonprofits and stores to sponsor the Be a Santa to a Senior program. The program that collects, wraps and delivers gifts to Treasure Valley seniors in need.

The program runs through Dec. 14. To get involved, sign up online at

Another Christmas donation opportunity: Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child, an international project that collects shoe boxes filled with donated toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement, will again have several drop-off points throughout the Boise area. National Collection Week runs from Nov. 16-23.

Organizers are hoping to collect 10,400 boxes in the local area to send to children in need overseas.

Find more info, a list of drop-off points and instructions about how to pack your box online at

Putting out the holiday call...

Are you a nonprofit organization that’s asking for the public’s help or donations to do an unusual kind of project to benefit the community this holiday season? We’re looking for new and surprising things to highlight. Let us know what you’re doing in an email to

A volunteer’s story

This is an ongoing feature in the Helping Works column. If you’d like to share your own experiences as a volunteer, email your story to Please include a photo of yourself (on your volunteer shift, if possible!). Volunteer stories run in the order in which we received them.

From Jennifer Finke, Boise

I have the best volunteer situation I could have ever imagined at the Old Idaho Pen. It all started 10 years ago when I went to an informational meeting at the Historical Society. I volunteered for both the Old Pen and the Historical Museum. They both needed people to work with the education program. So, I, who had no experience working with kids, started giving tours and talks to third and fourth graders. Who knew a retired accountant could have so much fun? The beauty of the tours and talks was the ability to make them my own. No scripts, just guidelines. What a leap of faith and trust by the staff.

My style has evolved over the 10 years from being a little wary of the kids, teachers and parents to appreciating the personalities of all. I will say that maybe I don’t always appreciate all of them but I know I can complain to the staff and other volunteers to let off a little steam.

Giving tours was my first volunteer job. Now I get to do so much more. As the Old Pen started doing special events, I started making things. I don’t exactly remember how it all began. I think it was with the commissary coins for the small gift shop. I made little bags for them, thinking that the coins would have a better chance of making it home in a bag than in a pocket. That evolved into making little packets of con cards (four cards with a picture of a convict on one side and information about his or her crime on the other), trucker hats and beanie patches. (I have a sewing machine that does embroidery.) I’ve made prisoner jackets for my favorite event, Frightened Felons. I’ve made prizes in the form of ghosts and spiders. What a fun way to use my creativity.

Do I feel appreciated? Absolutely. The staff makes me feel important. These people are family to me and to all the other volunteers. They have broadened my thinking in so many ways by sharing their viewpoints and listening to mine. They have included me in social events, much to my delight. I have watched them give comfort to other volunteers in times of need. I want to thank all the staff for giving me this opportunity. I am the luckiest volunteer alive.

Interested in volunteer opportunities with the Idaho State Historical Society? Visit