Helping Works

Anna Webb: Giving Tree benefits the Women’s and Children’s Alliance

Give at the Giving Tree. Pick up a tag on the Grove Plaza by Dec. 19.
Give at the Giving Tree. Pick up a tag on the Grove Plaza by Dec. 19.

The Women’s and Children’s Alliance has cared for people in crisis, and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault for decades. The annual Giving Tree at The Grove Plaza in Downtown Boise lets the rest of the community pitch in to provide a bright Christmas for those same people in need. Stop by the tree, choose a gift tag, then drop off your new, unwrapped gift and tag at the WCA office, 720 W. Washington St. from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Easy.

Donations will be accepted through Dec. 19. For more information, call 208-343-3688.

On a related note, gift tags for toys to benefit the Salvation Army are on display in the lobby of the Downtown Family YMCA, 1050 W. State St. in Boise.

Interfaith Sanctuary puts out the call for holiday donations

Needed items include: sweat pants and shirts for adults (all sizes), underwear for men and women, tube socks (all sizes), thermal underwear sets for men and women, sweaters for women, flannel or other warm shirts for men, hand and foot warmers, rain ponchos (that fold small), personal care items (tweezers, disposable razors, nail clippers).

Items are needed for 105 men and 35 women. Please note that the shelter currently has enough scarves, hats and gloves to go around. All items for holiday giving must be new and not gift-wrapped. Deliver items to the administration offices at 3350 Americana Terrace, Ste. 320, not to the shelter directly. Please deliver items by Dec. 22.

Financial donations that are earmarked for holiday giving are also welcome to ensure that shelter staffers will be able to buy items on the list that are not donated by Dec. 22. If you wish to do this, please indicate it in the memo line of your check. Mail donations to: Interfaith Sanctuary, P.O. Box 9334, Boise, ID 83707.

Also note this volunteer opportunity: Administration staff is seeking volunteers with spacious vehicles to help deliver items from the administration office to the shelter during the week. If you are interested, please email and indicate your general availability Monday through Friday.

Shop small, shop local, benefit refugee craftspeople

Artisans For Hope, a Boise nonprofit, provides a place for refugees to create handmade items, from knitted mittens and scarves to handbags and children’s clothing. When you buy an item from Artisans for Hope, 75 percent of the purchase price goes to the person who made it. The remaining 25 percent supports the operation.

Artisans For Hope will open its basement studio and sell its wares at 723 N. 15th St. (the southwest corner of 15th and Hays) on Saturday, Dec. 19 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Christmas at the Library

Nampa Public Library will host a “Christmas at the Library” on Saturday, Dec. 12 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. with entertainment and activities, including The Encore Carolers at 11 a.m., the Harvey Phillips Merry Tuba Christmas at noon, Santa and Mrs. Claus at 12:30 p.m. and the chance to make a candy cane wreath at 1 p.m. The library is at 215 12th Ave. South in Nampa.

The Art of Drawing Raptors

The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey, one of the Valley’s beloved nonprofits devoted to the natural world, hosts this event that blends art and nature. The Art of Drawing Raptors, a hands-on workshop, is from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 12, at the World Center for Birds of Prey.

Participants will be able to see birds on display as they delve into the techniques used to create lifelike drawings of raptors under the guidance of expert wildlife artists Bryce Robinson and Tempe Regan.

Space is limited and the cost is $30 (a $5 discount is available for students and Peregrine Fund members). For more information, or to register, call Tate Mason, 208-362-8259.

Treasure Valley Hounds 2016 calendars are here

Get your Land Trust of the Treasure Valley “hounds” calendar now. A portion of the proceeds from the calendar will go to caring for Foothills trails. The Treasure Valley Hounds photo contest provided photos for the calendar, with a different “pup of the month” for each month. All entries appear somewhere in the calendar.

Order yours online at with a $15 donation for one calendar, or a $50 donation for a five calendars.

A donation for Senior Solutions

The Walter and Leona Dufresne Fund in the Idaho Community Foundation has given $2,500 to Senior Solutions to provide services to elderly men and women who need help to remain living independently. During 2014, Senior Solutions provided assistance and resource information to over 4,770 senior citizens and their families, and provided intensive, ongoing assistance for over 354 of those senior citizens. For more information about resources for senior citizens, call 208-345-7777, or visit our website at

This is an ongoing feature in the Helping Works column. If you’d like to share your story working as volunteer for a local organization, email

From Samuel Johnson, Boise

Have you ever met a college student who had no idea what they wanted to do after graduation? Not so long ago, I was that student. All I knew was that I wanted to do something meaningful; I needed a job that would allow me to give something back to my community.

I found what I was looking for with the AmeriCorps VISTA program. VISTA stands for Volunteers In Service To America. I served first with the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force, and I am now in my second VISTA year with The Idaho Foodbank. With these two organizations I’ve taken on a variety of tasks aimed at solving hunger in our state, where 1 in 6 Idahoans are struggling to put enough food on the table.

VISTAs are full-time volunteers, dedicating 40 hours a week to reducing poverty over a yearlong term. Our paychecks are enough to cover basic needs such as rent, food and fuel, but we also accept that we will experience poverty during the service year. What VISTAs truly gain is the opportunity to make powerful impacts in our communities as well as valuable work experience that we will carry with us into our future careers.

While I have focused my VISTA service on anti-hunger work, I am only one part of a much larger team working on a variety of issues across the country. In the Boise area alone, VISTAs are working to improve the lives of children, veterans and refugees. I am always grateful to have the opportunity to work with so many passionate and dedicated individuals.

I still can’t say for sure what my future will bring, but I know that wherever my life takes me, I will forever carry the values, skills and friendships that I have gained during my VISTA service.

Anyone who is interested in learning more about the VISTA program may contact me at samueljohnson@idaho