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Maing a Difference in Your Community : AIDS Project Opens Valley Food Center

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Recognizing that time is the most precious commodity, AIDS Project Los Angeles opened a food distribution center in North Hollywood last weekend designed to provide services more quickly and easily to its San Fernando Valley clients.

The new site will spare clients the drive to the group’s Hollywood headquarters and the longer lines they usually encountered there.

“It really is more of a convenience for the clients and that’s the major goal,” said APLA’s volunteer coordinator Theo Sofianides. “They don’t have to wait a third as long as they would have before.”

Sofianides and a small group of volunteers staff the site at 6850 Vineland Ave. Its Necessities of Life Program is open on Fridays and Saturdays.

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Clients, who receive supplementary foodstuffs that include dry goods, meats and dairy products, qualify on the basis on their income, must live in Los Angeles County and have HIV or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, Sofianides said.

The program works in two phases, Sofianides said.

It begins each Tuesday and Wednesday, when volunteers staff the phone lines, take food orders from clients and bag and crate non-perishable items.

On Friday, Sofianides and company load the dry goods onto a five-ton truck, and the food is taken to the Valley site.

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The perishable items are then added to the clients’ orders, and the food is picked up on either Friday or Saturday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“If the client was to come into the Hollywood site, it would take an hour to an hour and a half,” Sofianides said. “Now they’re just coming in and waiting 10 minutes.”

Things went smoothly during the Valley food pantry’s first week, according to Sofianides, who had the help of four volunteers.

“This is kind of experimental--we wanted to see how it would fly,” he said. “If it continues to work we’ll set up more satellite sites (elsewhere in the county).”

Sofianides says volunteers are a key component of the Necessities of Life Program, and more help is always welcome.

“What I really need volunteers for is taking orders and pulling items here in Hollywood on Wednesday nights,” Sofianides said. “And if they want to help out in the Valley on Friday and Saturday that would be great, too.”

With 1,266 eligible clients countywide and 174 of them in the San Fernando Valley, the Necessities of Life Program has its hands full taking food orders and seeing that the food reaches those needing it.

Prospective volunteers should contact Sofianides at (213) 993-1349.

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Other volunteer opportunities:

Valley Presbyterian Hospital (818-902-2932) is in need of volunteers to work in the outpatient department, assisting with general duties, greeting new patients and directing patients to service areas. Openings are for weekday mornings.

Burbank’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program is seeking volunteers age 60 and over for the following positions: helping the Salvation Army paint its offices; working in the pantry and completing intake forms for new clients of the Burbank Temporary Aid Center; assisting with general office duties at the Burbank City Clerk’s office; and doing receptionist work for the Burbank Public Service Department’s Water Conservation Desk. For more information, contact Dee Call at (818) 953-9503.

The March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation is looking for “jail-birds” for its Third Annual West Valley Jail and Bail fund-raising event Sept. 28-30 at the Warner Center Marriott. Volunteers undergo a mock arrest and are sentenced to one hour on the telephone where they must “make bail” with pledges to the March of Dimes. For more information, contact Kim Kardinal at (818) 953-3937.


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