Holiday Guide: Opportunities for volunteers and budding philanthropists
Congratulations. Now that you're reading an article on giving back during the holidays, the healing can begin. Gentle friend, you are now free to have the warm fuzzies! Seriously, though, volunteering and making sure the presents you buy contribute to a good cause are admirable pursuits during this time of fireplace and family — but most of the organizations listed below do their thang year round. Use the season of giving to ignite a relationship with one of them that will continue long past the menorahs been packed away and Christmas tree set aflame by wandering packs of Mad Maxes.
The Tenderloin drop-in center provides a creative outlet for homeless and transitionally housed youth. It's always looking for volunteers to help with artistic and literary programs, administration, technical support, fundraising, and outreach.
(415) 923-9085, www.roaddawgz.org 
Four hundred tons of food pass through the Food Bank's warehouse each week. That's a lot of box wrangling! This Thanksgiving, the bank's hoping to provide 35,705 families with Turkey Day dinner — so get on down to their facilities to lend a hand, no lengthy orientation or time commitment required.
How much is that doggy in the window? You'll have the answer to this and other questions when you become a volunteer with SF's pioneering no-kill animal shelter and its furry yearly Macy's display windows, site of 300 adoptions and $50,000 in donations last holiday season. Greeter and matchmaker positions are available.
Glide's got the goods when it comes to your soup kitchen service time this holiday season. (Hurry, spots fill quickly!) But maybe people aren't your thing. In that case, come join the church's good Samaritans who keep Boedekker Park in the Tenderloin in good working order for the TL community every third Saturday from 9 a.m.-noon.
Calling all shopaholics — we'll take a break from harassing you about consumerism if you'll turn your retail frenzy to a good cause. Larkin Street is looking for donations of everything from clothes to electronics to personal care items and gift certificates for its homeless youth holiday gift drive. Chip in, willya?
From Harvey Milk notecards to San Francisco martini glasses, Under One Roof has a wealth of kitschy-cool presents for someone who could use a little City by the Bay in their life. What's even better is that Under One Roof has been selling these things since 1990 to raise money for agencies that provide HIV/AIDS support.
518 Castro, SF. (415) 503-2300, www.underoneroof.org 
Roommate needs to stop borrowing your hammer? Cole's got what you need to wrap up self-reliance for him this holiday season — and with its community partnership program, you can choose from a long list of neighborhood and national nonprofits (like local schools) to receive 10 percent of the money from your purchases.
Various locations, SF. www.colehardware.com 
When you're developmentally disabled, the term "outsider art" takes on new meaning — but points the way to some ravishingly perceptive masterpieces. Creativity Explored provides a support center for these nontraditional Picassos, and you can lend weight to their mission by shopping their holiday art sale.
Dec. 3–22, free. Mon. and Tues. 10 a.m.–3 p.m., Wed through Fri., 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Sat noon-6 p.m. 3245 16th St., SF. (415) 863-2108, www.creativityexplored.org 
The budding food entrepreneurs supported by this nonprofit will be more than happy to take the cookie-baking off your hands. Give your loved ones a box of chocolate-caramel shortbread squares or a delicious pierogi made by enterprising members of your community.
Dec. 10, 4–9 p.m., free. Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, 2868 Mission, SF. (415) 824-2729, www.lacocinasf.org