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Recommended for anyone new to this group or volunteering for the first time:
I try to spread the word about volunteer opportunities and raise awareness about non-profits/charities that do good work.
This is with Mercy House.
The National Guard Armories in Santa Ana (and maybe Fullerton) will be used as shelters between December and April.
Mercy House needs volunteers every day, (7 days a week), during the mornings and evenings (5:30 pm - 8:00 pm).
"The homeless receive a nutritious meal, a warm shower, a safe place to sleep, and access to valuable social services."
"Volunteers are needed to help with setting up tables and chairs, cleaning and putting out the sleeping mats, assisting with client registration, setting out snacks, passing out donations, serving dinner, and cleaning up."
"Volunteers must be at least 13 years old and those who are under 18 must have a guardian with them at all times."
"All volunteers must also sign waiver."
This waiver is from last year. I'll post an update when a new one is available:
Waivers are available at the armory or print a copy ahead of time.
A few dates have been scheduled for our group, but if anyone wants to help on another day, feel free to sign up on your own at
Full description of the volunteer tasks:
In previous years, last minute cancellations occurred often, so I generally don't expect others will show up. However, if anybody actually attends, this is a different and unique event, so thank you to everyone who helps.
To reiterate, this event is distinct. Not everybody might like the tasks involved.
Examples of tasks include setting up the sleeping mats and wiping & disinfecting the mats. A
few volunteers might help with the snacks (popcorn or pretzels) or the coffee and juice/punch.
Other tasks might involve helping with the check-in registration (this involves interacting with the people who will sleep there).
Sometimes one person is needed to help with distributing towels and hygiene items for showering (soap, shampoo, etc.).
And sometimes a few people are asked to help with the clothing distribution.
The Mercy House staff (they usually wear red) assigns the tasks, so thank you for being open-minded.
Some people might like helping here, and to be honest, some might not.
I think it's humbling and eye-opening, so that's why I try to go a few times every year...but totally understandable others might feel differently.
If nobody else from this group signs up, other people (outside of Meetup) usually go to help too, so you shouldn't be alone.
If anyone decides to participate, if possible, please try to keep an open mind and avoid having any high expectations. Thank you.
Sometimes other volunteers show up and they have too many.
Sometimes too few show up, and sometimes just the right number attend.
It can be unpredictable.
There may not always be enough "work" for everyone if they have several people, or some waiting or inactivity might occur, so thank you for being understanding & patient with whatever happens.
Most people at the shelter are well-behaved, respectful, and safe/harmless. Nevertheless, if a problem arises or if anyone feels uncomfortable, immediately contact a Mercy House staff member (they usually wear a red shirt/sweater) or a security guard.
Security guards are always present, as well as Mercy House staff members, and occasionally some National Guard Reserve service members.
Mercy House recommends dressing casual/conservative and wearing comfortable shoes.
Given the time/duration of this event, consider eating an early dinner. Food is provided for the people staying at the shelter, and they don't always have enough food for the volunteers, eating beforehand is recommended.
Also, after volunteering, if leaving alone, sometimes one of the security guards is stationed outside the armory. However, if one isn't, please ask one to escort you to your vehicle.
Donating shoes & clothes (e.g. sweaters, jackets, pants, etc.) are appreciated. New socks and underwear are often requested.
Photo Source/Credit: OC Register
The Santa Ana armory is west of the 55 freeway, and between the 5 and 405, and west of Grand Ave, and between Edinger Ave & Dyer Rd.
The armory looks like:
Parking is available in their lot.
If you see people standing outside on/near the sidewalk, that's normal.
After parking, walk to the front of the armory and go inside.
If a security guard asks, just say you're volunteering, and they'll let you in through the door.
Upon entering the armory, look for a sign-in sheet (folder or clipboard).
Fill out their volunteer waiver form if it's your first time.
Then put on some gloves and a Mercy House staff member (wearing red), should assign you with someone to help with.