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City Beat: the Do Good Bus takes volunteers to opportunities

December 19, 2012 | 12:51 pm

Say you want to volunteer, but you feel overwhelmed by all the choices. You're not sure who to call, where to go, where you might be useful.

In Los Angeles, you can turn to the Do Good Bus, which aims to take people who want to help to places where they're needed -- and to make the volunteering experience fun.

To that end, the bus ride is a bit of a mystery. You pay $25 to cover a meal and help defray the cost of bus rental. But you don't know in advance where you're going. That's a surprise.

Citybeat

On Tuesday, I went on the Do Good Bus' holiday ride, along with people from all over the Los Angeles area. We boarded a school bus and headed down the 101 Freeway, as organizer Rebecca Pontius got everyone to sing and act out parts in "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

We ended up at Challengers Boys & Girls Club in South Los Angeles, where Pontius expected her crew to have a lot to do. She'd been told they'd be helping children in foster care put together the new bikes they'd be getting for Christmas.

It turned out no such help was needed for what turned out to be a toy giveaway. Singer Ne-Yo was there, as were so many volunteers, there wasn't enough for all of them to do.

On the bus ride home, Pontius served eggnog in Mason jars -- and said she was sorry that the event wasn't hands-on as promised, and that people had to stand around without jobs to do. That's what sometimes happens during the holidays, she said, when everyone wants to volunteer. She urged her bus riders to give volunteering another try, either on or off the bus. Next ride: Jan. 26.

Here's a first look at the ride in the reporter's notebook I sent out on Twitter: 

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-- Nita Lelyveld

Follow City Beat on Twitter at @latimescitybeat and on Facebook. Send ideas for City Beat dispatches to nita.lelyveld@latimes.com.

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