Here's to a Healthy New Year for All! 12 Ways to Give the Gift of Well-Being

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, La Jolla Light researched several ways community members could contribute (time or talent) to worthy, health-related causes in La Jolla and greater San Diego. Here they are in alphabetical order:

1. American Heart Association 

What to give: Time and/or money 

Why: The San Diego chapter of American Heart Association is on Genesee Avenue in La Jolla, and serves as a hub for volunteer opportunities including survivor speaker opportunities, Heart Walk team captains, Walking Club coordinators, Health Fair volunteers, office support with special events, school assembly visitors, and more. 

Specifically, the AHA education initiatives need volunteers: Power To End Stroke to reduce African Americans’ high risk of stroke, Conozca Su Corazon (Know Your Heart) to help the Hispanic community make heart-healthy choices, Juntos Contra El Derrame Cerebral (Together Against Brain Stroke) to reduce Latinos' risk of stroke. Alternatively, the AHA accepts donations to support research, education, improving patient care and reaching populations at risk.

More: (858) 410-3850. heart.org

2. CHEERS Foundation for Women’s Health 

What to give: Money 

Why: With a mission to empower women to live life with vitality, free from the five primary health threats — heart disease, mental illness, cancer, osteoporosis and autoimmune diseases — the La Jolla-based National Cheers Foundation raises funds to offer grants that support medical research and health institutions, health advocacy groups and outreach programs. In 2014 and 2015, four major grants were given to local women’s health groups. As an added perk, Cheers hosts luncheons and an annual gala, which serve as fundraisers for the organization (so if you can help and have a good time, why not do it).

More: Sign up for updates/information at nationalcheersfoundation.org

3. Eric Paredes Save A Life Foundation

What to give: Time and/or money

Why: In September 2014, the Eric Paredes Save A Life Foundation held a free screening for teens at La Jolla High School in collaboration with The Bishop’s School. To continue the non-invasive screenings that look for an anomaly in heart rhythm not part of routine checkups or sports physicals, volunteers and monetary donations are needed. Volunteers can sign up at epsavealife.org/volunteer and those that cannot volunteer can donate at epsavealife.org/donate 

In addition to hands-on help, the Foundation hosts gala and golf tournament fundraisers. The organization was created in honor of Eric Paredes, a healthy Steele Canyon High School sophomore athlete who died unexpectedly from Sudden Cardiac Arrest. 

 More: epsavealife.org

4. Informed Prostate Cancer Support Group

What to give: Money

Why: To support those diagnosed with prostate cancer and their families, this group meets from 10 a.m. to noon the third Saturday of every month at the Sanford Children's Health Research Center Auditorium, 10905 Road to the Cure. 

The group started in 1990 with 12 men with no connection to doctors, hospitals or clinics, who just wanted to learn more. Now, the meetings feature expert speakers with current information on research, prevention and treatment, and a membership of 600 men from all over San Diego County. To keep the forums going and further its mission to make men more aware of their options before they begin treatment, the group accepts donations on its website and through the purchase of informational DVDs ($10 each).

More: (619) 890-8447. ipcsg.org/donate

5. La Jolla Meals on Wheels 

What to give: Time and/or money 

 Why: La Jolla Meals On Wheels provides daily nutritious meals and caring visits to disabled and homebound individuals in La Jolla and the University City neighborhoods. Delivery volunteers may indicate their preference of days and times to work. To donate, supporters can contribute online or simply shop at Ralph’s grocery store, which has a companion Community Contribution Program. To join, call (866) 221-4141, provide the number on the back of a Ralph’s Reward Card and then provide La Jolla Meals on Wheels’ ID number: 81927. Anytime shoppers use their Ralph’s rewards card, a percentage goes to La Jolla Meals on Wheels.

More: lajollamealsonwheels.org 

6. Metugo 

What to give: Time and/or money 

Why: A partner with Scripps Health in La Jolla, Metugo (short for medical records to go) was founded by Robin Rady, a former Scripps breast cancer patient. It provides records organizers for newly diagnosed cancer patients. On the Metugo website, founder Rady said, “(When I was diagnosed,) the first report handed to me was my Pathology Report. Next came results of MRIs CT scans, blood work and more,” adding to the piles of notes, she needed a place to keep everything. “I created a medical records binder for myself as a way to take control of my disorganized self and bring some order to this already stressful time.” 

Metugo holds binder-making parties where volunteers create the binders (and sign them “assembled with care by” and their name), which are then delivered to cancer patients. Alternatively, supporters can “buy” a binder or donate to the organization. 

More: To learn about a future binder party or to give, call (858) 354-8456. metugo.com

7. Miracle Babies 

 What to give: Money

Why: Miracle Babies San Diego launched Project MB and sells fashionable tote bags with proceeds going to helping families with newborns in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU). The vegan leather tote bag comes in Dove Grey or Tiffany Blue, and includes a bonus cross-body pouch, making it the ideal handbag for baby supplies, travel and business. Additionally, Project MB allows for bags to be purchased for and delivered to a mother with a baby in the NICU. Each bag is $95. Alternatively, conventional donations are accepted. 

More: miraclebabies.org/donate

8. Rady Children’s Hospital

What to give: Money

Why: To cover the range of services provided by Rady’s Children’s Hospital, donations can be directed to one of several areas — the Greatest Needs Fund, autism, behavioral health, the Chadwick Center for Children & Families, child life and family support services, developmental services, diabetes, Heart Institute, the Helen Bernardy Center for Medically Fragile Children, medical education fellowship/residency, neonatology, neuro-oncology, neuroscience, nursing, orthopedics, hospice care, the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, pediatric specially care, pulmonology, the Institute for Genomic Medicine, research and discovery, surgery, trauma, and underfunded patient care. 

Rady also holds fundraisers through the year, and accepts corporate gifts and contributions through the Amazon Smile online shopping program. 

More: radyfoundation.org/give 

9. San Diego Biomedical Research Institute (SDBRI)

What to give: Money

Why: This new non-profit, located on Road to the Cure near UCSD, is focused on finding ways to predict and prevent disease and to accelerate medical advances that maintain health and improve quality of life. On Nov. 5, SDBRI launched the Teach Science to the Community Initiative, and invited six residents of Casa de Manana to work with scientists. Following positive feedback, it will have more, starting in January. Contributions would assist with outreach and events, and fund research. 

More: (858) 200-7048. sdbri.org

10. Scripps Memorial Hospital and Prebys Cardiovascular Institute

What to give: Time 

Why: The volunteer department at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla has several opportunities, including manning the gift shop, information desk and family/visitor waiting areas; assisting in nursing units; sewing and craft groups; clerical tasks; fundraising; pet therapy programs and more. 

Men and women at least 15 years old are eligible. As a volunteer, you’ll be required to attend an orientation seminar and safety training. Scripps seeks those willing to make the long-term commitment of six months and at least 100 hours. 

More: -Email ljvolunteerservices@scrippshealth.org for the next orientation date. scripps.org/about-us

11. Susan G. Komen San Diego 

What to give: Money

Why: According to its website, up to 75 percent of the funds donated remain in San Diego to cover every step of the breast health journey – from education, outreach, mammograms and diagnostics, to surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and material and financial support like meals, mortgage payments, support for children, prosthetics and wigs. The organization accepts donations of any amount, but has a $125 Challenge (average cost of a mammogram) to assist in paying for this life-saving test for those who need help. 

More: komensandiego.org/donate 

12. Up to Us San Diego campaign 

What to give: Time

Why: With a special focus on men and young people, the It’s Up to Us campaign is designed to empower San Diegans to talk openly about mental illness, recognize symptoms, use local resources and seek help. It was developed through the County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency. The campaign also provides information about mental illness, and lists local organizations that need volunteers, including the San Diego Chapter of Mental Health America, San Diego County Suicide Prevention Council, NAMI StigmaBusters and more, online. 

More: up2sd.org

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