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Start your year off right by volunteering

By Times Staff Writer
Published November 15, 2007



Start your year off right by volunteering

Here's a New Year's resolution you can get started on today: Pinellas County's Guardian ad Litem program is recruiting volunteers.

Nearly 1,000 children in Pinellas need a guardian ad litem. Volunteers advocate for abused, abandoned or neglected children and teens in the family courts and the child welfare system. The average time needed is four to six hours a month. As a child's advocate, the guardian ad litem visits the child every month, becomes familiar with the child's case and makes recommendations to the court to help ensure the child has a safe, caring and stable environment. Thirty hours of training is required.

Seven classes have been scheduled for 2008, and the first class starts Jan. 8. To schedule a one-hour orientation, call 727 464-6528. Visit


Be an exchange student in Japan

Applications from high school students interested in traveling abroad as part of an exchange program with Clearwater's sister city, Nagano, Japan, are being accepted by the city.

Four will spend two weeks there next summer and be immersed in the language and culture as they stay with local families. They will also visit and give presentations to junior and senior high schools there and be involved in educational exchanges. To be eligible, students must be either a city resident or attend a high school in Clearwater. Scholarships can cover travel costs. Applications are available at or by 562-4832. The deadline is Nov. 27.


Help bring hot meals to homebound folks

Many Pinellas County seniors live alone and are too poor to buy food or too frail to shop and cook for themselves. Meals On Wheels is looking for compassionate, caring volunteers who have an hour or so at midday to deliver hot meals to homebound folks in the Tarpon Springs area Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Meals are picked up at the Solomon Peska Center, 431 Spruce St. To volunteer, call Jim Olson at (727) 417-1411.


Load up on food and more at green market

Dunedin's Green Market features produce, cheeses, seafood, plants and herbs, honey, all-natural pet treats, organic products, nuts, natural seasonings and fresh fruit. Market hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Friday through the end of April. For information, call market manager Richard Kendler at (727) 733-4215 or e-mail him at


Hit the Pinellas Trail with Walking Club

Exercise your legs with walking and your mouth with laughter with the Walking Club at the Hale Activity Center, 330 Douglas Ave. The group meets at 8:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays to walk the Pinellas Trail. Call (727) 298-3299.


Musicians needed for Suncoast String Band

The Suncoast String Band is calling for musicians who play saxophone, banjo, violin, guitar and accordion. The band is starting rehearsals for the coming concert season. For information, call band director Tom Barry at (727) 738-4546.


Good at preparing taxes? You're needed

The IRS/AARP TaxGuide program, which last year prepared more than 4,000 income tax returns for residents of North Pinellas, needs volunteers. The program helps low-income and elderly residents prepare their taxes free of charge. Volunteers receive training that leads to IRS/AARP certification. To volunteer, call Frank Mann at (727) 726-7822 or register online at


Nominate a young hero by today

Nominations for Pinellas County Schools' Young Heroes Award are being accepted. This award recognizes students who perform community service, inspire others with their deeds or model strength of character in difficult situations. Any K-12 student who lives in Pinellas County and attends a public school is eligible. Nominations may come from anyone. The nomination deadline is today. An elementary, middle and high school winner will be selected. Each recipient will receive a $500 savings bond. To nominate a deserving young person, go to to download and print the nomination form, or call (727) 588-6122.


Register your child for visit from Santa

Santa and his elves will visit Oldsmar children in their homes the nights of Dec. 11-15 this year. To contact Santa, mail a 3- by 5-inch card with your family's name, address and daytime phone number to Oldsmar Fire Rescue, 225 Pine Ave. N, Oldsmar, FL 34677, or drop the card off at the station. After the date of the appointment is set, drop off a small present for each child at the station with the child's name and address and the date and time of Santa's visit written on the outside of the package. For groups of children, put labeled presents in a large garbage bag, then label the outside of the bag, too. Participating families are also asked to bring a small, new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots by Dec. 10. Call Pat Raynor at (813) 749-1200.


Hard-working child a finalist for CNN hero

Pat Pedraja of Palm Harbor, 12, has signed up more than 6,000 new potential bone marrow donors so far this year. Now he's won the "Young Wonder" category of the CNN Heroes All-Star Tribute and is one of six finalists for the network's top honor. To find out more or to vote for Pat, go to Voting continues through Nov. 26. If he wins, he will appear on a global broadcast on Dec. 6 in which he would have a chance to talk about the need for more bone marrow donors.


Brooker educational center needs help

Looking to help out? Friendly, outgoing volunteers are needed at the Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center as exhibit hall docents and summer camp assistants. Call 453-6800.


Volunteers needed in mentoring program

Gulf Coast Community Care needs volunteers age 30 and older for its mentoring program. Volunteers are matched with children who need a positive adult role model. There is a need for volunteers for children of all ages. No experience necessary, no costs. Volunteers spend a few hours a week in activities like reading, fishing, baking, teaching a craft or visiting a park. Call 479-1841 or 479-1825.


Don't fall for plots to 'fix' your water

Pinellas County and city of Clearwater officials say they have received complaints that at least one local water treatment company claims to represent the county to gain entrance to homes and inspect faucets or hot water heaters in an effort to sell expensive water treatment systems. The companies are not endorsed by or affiliated with any government agency, and county utility employees would never try to sell an "upgrade" to a home's plumbing. Consumers should be wary of unexpected visits or gifts from water companies, sales people who add thickening agents to water to solidify harmless minerals, high prices and scare tactics, officials say. To learn more about Pinellas County water quality, call (727) 464-4000. To learn more about Clearwater's water, call (727) 562-4600. To investigate a company's history, call the Department of Consumer Protection at (727) 464-6200 or visit consumer and click on "Check a business."


Friends of Library seeking donations

Before silverfish overrun your old paperback collection, why not donate it? The Friends of the Library Book & Gift Store in Clearwater's Main Library is seeking donations of paperback books in good condition for resale in the store.

Bring your donations to the Main Library or call Judy Bazata at 461-6272 if pickup is needed.

Proceeds from the Friends of the Clearwater Library bookstores are used to enhance the Clearwater Public Library system. The store also needs volunteers to work certain days and hours. A short training session is required. The Friends Book & Gift Store is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Work hours are variable, generally two hours a week. To volunteer call Rosalie Murray at 531-0667.


Hearing-impaired program expanded

The Deaf and Hearing Connection for Tampa Bay has expanded its no-cost telephone loan services, which include amplified telephone and equipment usage, at the following locations: Largo Library, Clearwater Library, Palm Harbor Library, Dunedin Senior Center, Safety Harbor Library, the Upper Tampa Bay Library, St. Petersburg Sunshine Center, Gulfport Senior Center and the Gulf Beaches Library. Call (727) 399-9983 for dates and times.


Nonprofit needs items for homeless clients

The Homeless Emergency Project Inc. is a nonprofit organization that assists needy individuals and families with children and serves more than 1,000 people each year. A Bring Items of Necessity project created and launched in June allows local businesses to serve as collection sites for food, clothing, toiletries, cleaning supplies and other essential items used by HEP's clients. The public can get a list of BIN themes and drop off locations by calling HEP community relations coordinator Rebecca Lett at (727) 442-9041 or by visiting

[Last modified November 14, 2007, 22:54:09]

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