Archive | Orange County Charities

Charity Spotlight: Think Together

Over 20 years ago, a group of mothers decided they had had enough–enough of seeing the odds against the neighborhood kids, as they were drawn into gang violence, dropping out of school, and born into less than ideal situations.

That group of mothers, alongside community leaders, created the Shalimar Learning Center in Costa Mesa. Since then, they have grown into “Think Together,” a statewide program offering expanded learning sessions and school improvement through affiliations with local partners. Based in Santa Ana, they work in 8 counties, 49 school districts, have 525 programs, and work with 150,000 students. Continue Reading →

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Orange County Music and Dance School

Some children dream of being astronauts, firefighters, rock stars, writers. Some dream of being the next prima ballerina for the Ballets Russes, the next So You Think You Can Dance favorite, or joining a hip-hop group. But the dream to be a dancer comes at a cost, which not every family can afford to maintain long-term. Studio classes cost hundreds of dollars a month, and come recital time, there are extra fees and costumes to buy. The price only goes up the more a student advances–paying for attire, more classes a week, with more performances. Continue Reading →

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Charity Spotlight: The Orangewood Foundation


A woman named Dr. Harris grew up in Orange County–she became a doctor just over a year ago. She attended UCLA and achieved a BA in Molecular Biology, and went on to medical school in Albany. And, Dr. Harris was born to a drug-using and physically abusive family. She was placed into foster care at the age of six. After being taken in by her grandmother, she began to find stable footing. Determined to become a doctor, she was able to rely on the Orangewood Foundation to provide her the resources and support necessary to get to where she is today. This is just one of the many success stories from The Orangewood Foundation for Foster and Community Youth Services. Continue Reading →

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Charity Profile: The California Heart Connection

When a child is facing health hardships a parent can feel helpless. Almost 20 years ago, two SoCal parents of children with heart defects took that feeling of helplessness and turned it into action. Their actions gave birth to the California Heart Connection. Located in Irvine, the California Heart Connection is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, dedicated to building a community of friends and families who are affected by congenital heart defects. Continue Reading →

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HomeAid Orange County

When without a home, the first question every day as the sun sets is, “where do we go?”. HomeAid Orange County wants there to always be an answer to that question in Orange County– no matter when or why. This is why they are working to build over 70 emergency shelters in Orange County. Orange County has a shockingly low number of residences for emergency housing and the homeless, shelter for “victims, families, children, and veterans”. Continue Reading →

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The O.C. Child Abuse Prevention Center

The O.C. Child Abuse Prevention Center’s purple, heart logo is edged with the words, “Breaking the Cycle”: breaking the cycle of child abuse in Orange County, and in the greater community. Eighty percent of victims of child abuse are diagnosed with at least one psychological disorder by age 21. The damage done by abusers goes beyond the physical, creating lasting mental illnesses which inhibit performance in school and can create lifelong cognitive difficulties. Breaking the cycle means helping not only one generation, but the following generations as well. Also, with terrifying events happening at our country’s schools, like the recent shooting, we need to be aware even more that children also need an outlet for their feelings, including their fears. Continue Reading →

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O.C. Charity Spotlight: StandUp for Kids

In 2003, the Orange County chapter of StandUp for Kids was born. With it came a new outlet of support for the community of homeless youth in OC– outreach centers, housing assistance, and mentorship programs. StandUp for Kids finds a way to reintegrate every youth back into the community, whether through going back to school or finding them a job. The main focus of StandUp for Kids programs is to lead youth to self-sufficiency and prevent gang involvement, teen pregnancy, drug use, and dropping out of school. In 2017 alone, they assisted over 350 youth, formalized partnerships with local shelters, and logged more than 6,200 hours serving children in Orange County. Continue Reading →

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Family Holiday Volunteering in the OC

The holiday season is a time of gratitude and generosity– what better way to channel this than volunteering and giving back to those in your very own community. Volunteering is a great way to act as a role model, encourage good works, and build memories with your entire family.

Orange County offers a wide range of opportunity for volunteer work during the holidays. Get to know your neighbors, and truly give back to the community this year! Here are a few places to start:

Build Futures – Huntington Beach, CA –

Build Futures focuses on taking young adults age 18-24 off of the streets, and providing them with the tools to stay off the streets. This year, they are asking for hygiene kits and grocery bags of food. This is a good one to do from home, and even as a part of a holiday gathering. Make an assembly line, blast the Christmas music, and ask guests to contribute some of the following items:

Build Futures asks for: “hygiene items (full size not travel) for the homeless youth we serve. Items needed include deodorant (male or female), lip balm, disposable razors (male or female), comb/brush (male or female), shampoo, conditioner, tissue (small packs), toothpaste, toothbrush, Soap (bar or body wash, Male or female), Toothbrush holder or caps (optional)”.

And for grocery bags: “Non-perishable grocery items for newly housed individuals are needed so they have food when housed. Re-usable fabric bags are preferred but can be paper. Suggested items (please keep in mind nutritional needs, these are full sizes): 2 to 4 cans or packs of tuna or chicken, peanut butter, strawberry or raspberry jam, whole grain crackers, soups, protein or granola bars (box), oatmeal, whole grain cereal, nuts of some type, whole grain pasta, brown rice, can of black beans, 2 cans chili/ravioli type meals, fruit cups or applesauce (6 pack)”.

Friendly Center – Orange, CA –

The Friendly Center helps keep children and their families safe, stable, and secure. In the holiday season, this means providing shelter, clothing, and gifts for the kids of families who are focusing solely on getting food on the table. Contribute to the turkey basket drive, give toys, host a craft table for kids at holiday events at the center– there are countless ways to help!

Christmas Toy Drive (Giving Children Hope Facility) – Buena Park, CA –

Giving Children Hope provides for the welfare, health and self-esteem of Orange County Unified School District students who the McKinney-Vento act identifies as homeless. Contribute toys, sponsor a child’s wishlist, or participate in the organization’s wrapping parties.

Orangewood Children’s Foundation – Santa Ana, CA –

As a 24 hour emergency shelter for children up to 18 years, the Orangewood Children’s Foundation is at work 24/7. Help them provide these children with a little holiday spirit. Sponsor their wishlist program, and pick an item or items requested specifically by a little one.

Adopt-a-Park – Santa Ana, CA –

Take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and get outdoors. Do park clean up, landscaping, greet visitors, or work in the office. Adopt-a-block can be a one time experience, or become a regular tradition in the family. Volunteers of all ages are welcome.

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The Orange County Rescue Mission

The Empire chapter of SIC Psycles Familia pose with families from Village of Hope in Tustin on Sunday, October 09, 2016.
(Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The Orange County Rescue Mission developed in response to a serious need in the OC community. Sergeant Lewis Whitehead, a resident of Orange County in the 1960s, had his life changed in 1963. Passing by a bridge, he overhead a confrontation underneath the bridge. What he found there shocked him to his core. It was like the dark underside of the affluent and easygoing OC life above the bridge– children, women, and men: sick, without food and shelter. Continue Reading →

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O.C. Charities: Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation

Nearly 15,000 kids in the US are diagnosed with cancer every year. And of the $8 billion of government funding going toward cancer research, less than 4% goes toward specific studies of childhood cancer. Since its founding in 1982, the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation (PCRF) has pledged to “focus its efforts to improve the care, quality of life and survival rate of children with malignant diseases”. Their office is located in Irvine. Continue Reading →

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