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A short list of local do-gooders who need your help during the holidays

Hands Out

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Nashville hosts many organizations in addition to Room in the Inn who do important work in the community and provide numerous opportunities to give to and volunteer with various groups in need. Here are just a few that can use assistance:

Hands On Nashville was instrumental in helping the city recover from the flood, and that work is not finished. HON helps match volunteers with work throughout the Nashville area. Download their 2010 Holiday Volunteer Guide for a wide-ranging guide to where your help is most needed this season. There are more than 75 opportunites — everything from donating clothing to delivering pies or starting your own book drive. www.hon.org

The PENCIL Foundation works with Metro schools on a wide variety of programs, including LP PENCIL Box — a free school supply center for Metro teachers and their students. The holidays are an ideal time for donors to help restock the LP PENCIL Box store for the spring semester, with not only school supplies but also puzzles, awards and games. www.pencilfoundation.org

Big Brothers Big Sisters is trying to recruit 300 new volunteers before Dec. 15 — one for each of the 300 children who are waiting to be matched with a mentor. "How great it would be if Middle Tennesseans could help us get these children a Big Brother or Big Sister before Christmas!" says marketing vice president Lisbeth Couser. "We are especially in need of men to help us serve the boys on our waiting list. If someone feels they don't have the time to become a Big [Brother or Sister], there are a number of other ways they can become involved with us." www.mentorakid.org

Conexión Américas helps Latino families through advocacy and educational programs — they also sell Rumba Roast, their own brand of fair-trade coffee, which would probably make a good gift for the caffeine enthusiasts in your life. www.conamericas.com

Possibly the best starting point for anyone searching out volunteer opportunities is the Giving Matters site, which maintains a thorough database of local nonprofits and is a terrific resource for finding an organization working on issues important to you. Browse by cause and check out local nonprofits' needs statements online at www.givingmatters.com

Giving Matters is an initiative of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, which will be introducing Giving Cards during Thanksgiving week. Anyone can purchase the new gift card — in increments starting at $25 — and the recipient will be able to choose the charity or charities to receive the funds. Giving Cards are also available, and can be customized, in bulk. www.cfmt.org

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