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The Encore program at San Juan College has a mission of "creating opportunities for seniors to maintain lifelong vitality through self-development and service." The Encore program encourages seniors to volunteer through both its service club, the Encore Ambassadors, and elsewhere in the community. During the holiday season, Encore and volunteers fill the needs of many community agencies and events.

"Some needs are specific to the holidays, such as baking and delivering cookies for the Bloomfield Senior Center’s Annual Holiday Cookie Fundraiser, while others are ongoing needs, such as sorting and bagging food at the Echo Food Bank," said Lucy Haber, who oversees the Volunteer Center at San Juan College

Some holiday activities have specific dates, such as setting up for a luminaria display at Aztec Ruins’ Evening of Lights on Thursday, Dec. 10, or directing participants in the city of Farmington’s Reindeer Romp Run on Saturday, Dec. 19.

Other needs happen at various times throughout the season, such as wrapping gifts at the Tres Rios Habitat for Humanity booth at the Animas Valley Mall or sorting donated toys for the Salvation Army. At the end of December, Northwest New Mexico Hospice looks for volunteers for Light Up a Life on New Year’s Eve. Moving into the tax season, the AARP Tax Aide Program recruits helpers to greet seniors in Farmington, Aztec Bloomfield, and Shiprock.

San Juan College has compiled a list of volunteer opportunities submitted by community organizations.

"This is our second year to compile a holiday specific list," Haber said. "We encourage volunteering throughout the year, and around the holidays we see a surge of both needs and a desire to help others."

The list provides detailed needs and contact information.

While the Volunteer Center list is intended for a variety of ages, Encore specifically recruits older adults to volunteer through the Encore Ambassadors. This holiday season, the Ambassadors assist in the preparation for San Juan College’s luminaria display, which is San Juan College’s gift to the community.

The holiday volunteer list is available on the San Juan College Volunteer Center website, sanjuancollege.edu/volunteercenter. For more information on the Encore Ambassadors or the San Juan College Volunteer Center, call 505-566-3293.

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