<lst>'A Visit from Saint Nicholas.' On Dec. 5, the "Visit from Saint Nicholas" program gives backpacks filled with toys and books to about 2,000 children at six public elementary schools in Fairfax County when they arrive at school that morning. This gift is organized by Volunteer Fairfax with the help of community donors who can help make the holidays special for children who might otherwise not receive a gift this season. To sponsor a child or a classroom, call 703-246-3460 or visit www.volunteerfairfax.org.

ECHO (Ecumenical Community Helping Others) is an all-volunteer private agency whose purpose is to help people, who live within the Springfield/Burke area, who need a bit of extra help. ECHO has less than three weeks food in stock for its clients. Some staple, non-perishable items are in low supply or gone completely. These items include: boxed potatoes and macaroni and cheese; canned baked beans; canned concentrated juices; peanut butter and jelly; pancake mix; pancake syrup; cooking oil; evaporated and powdered milk; canned meat; rice; tomato sauce/paste 4-6 ounces; toothpaste 6.5 ounces and larger; children's toothbrushes; small laundry detergent; shampoo; band-aids; Kleenex; paper towels; adult over-the-counter medications for flu/colds, pain. Keep these items in mind when donating to the Boy Scouts food drive Saturday, Nov. 15. Individually wrapped or small items are most useful. Household items, clothing in good shape and new underwear are also needed. Volunteers are also welcome. To help, phone ECHO at 703-569-9160 or log onto the Internet at www.echo-inc.org for more information.

Ecumenical Community Helping Others (ECHO) is selling the 2004 entertainment coupon book. Entertainment books cost $35, and $7 of that amount goes directly to ECHO. The books include 50 percent off and two-for-one offers on hundreds of dining, hotel, recreation, shopping and other expenses, including savings on airline tickets, rental cars and much more. The book is available for more than 160 cities coast-to-coast. Entertainment book sales will raise money to buy food and winter coats for persons and families in need in the Springfield and Burke communities, and to assist them in paying bills for essential needs, especially housing, utilities and medical problems. Books are available now and may be used immediately and through Nov. 1, 2004. Books can be picked up at ECHO at 7205 Old Keene Mill Road, Springfield, whenever ECHO is open for business. Phone 703-569-9160 or 703-451-7955 for hours or for more information.

Adopt a Salvation Army Kettle. The Salvation Army does not have enough volunteers to cover all the places that it is ringing bells to draw attention to charitable donation kettles. For a group to adopt a kettle for a day, a week or the entire Christmas season, call 703-385-8700 Ext. 11.

The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia is looking for volunteers to become tutors to the over 100 students on its waiting list. To learn more about volunteer opportunities involving adult literacy, attend the Literacy Council's volunteer orientation on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 7-8 p.m., at the Literacy Council office, 3431-A Carlin Springs Road, Falls Church. If planning to attend, call 703-575-7900 or send an e-mail to info@lcnv.org. For more information, visit www.lcnv.org.

A volunteer receptionist is needed to work with the chief deputy clerk of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. A minimum commitment of two, four-hour shifts per week, Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., for a six-month period is needed. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age.

Volunteers are also needed to meet with families after court hearings. Applicants must be able to communicate effectively with a wide variety of people. Bilingual applicants are encouraged to apply. A six-month commitment is needed.

For more information about these positions, or to request an application, contact Gwen Robinson at 703-246-2697, TTY 273-3713, or by e-mail at gwen.robinson@fairfaxcounty.gov.

Volunteers for Change, a Volunteer Fairfax volunteer program for adults featuring a flexible calendar of weekend and weekday evening projects, is looking for new members. To become a member, the only requirement is a one-time orientation. Upcoming orientations are planned for Wednesday, Dec. 3, 6:30-7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 7, 2-3 p.m. All orientations take place at the Volunteer Fairfax office in central Fairfax, 10530 Page Ave., Fairfax. Contact Emily Swenson to register for the next orientation at 703-246-3460 or eswenson@volunteerfairfax.org.

Share the Joy. Volunteer for United Community Ministries' Holiday Program! On Dec. 2-15, sort toys and help set up UCM's gift room. On Dec. 18, 19, 20 and 22, be a holiday gift room escort or helper; provide transportation to clients after gift room visit. Dec. 1-22, pick up gifts from gift donation sites and deliver them to UCM. Interested persons should contact Cecelia Vergaretti at 703-768-7106 Ext. 326.

United Community Ministries' New You Mentors provide one-on-one friendship, emotional support and modeling of positive work ethics to program participants. Mentors provide participants with useful tools to assist them in their job search and help participants use their strengths to reach their desired results. One, two-hour training session and 10 weekly sessions will take place on Monday evenings, from 7-9 p.m. Provide up to 10 weeks follow-up with client. Interested persons should contact Cecelia Vergaretti at 703-768-7106 x326.

Drivers are needed to transport food to United Community Ministries' clients who are disabled or ill and are unable to make it to the Food Closet. Each volunteer would have to commit to one hour per week for at least a three-month period. Interested persons should contact Cecelia Vergaretti at 703-768-7106 x326.

United Community Ministries needs volunteers to assist families and individuals to improve the quality of their lives in a manner that builds self-esteem and fosters the ability to function at the highest level of their capability. The volunteer provides childcare during weekly group meetings as well as models good manners and positive family interaction during both dinner and playtime. Weekly meetings are Thursday evenings, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at Belleview Baptist Church. Interested persons should contact Cecelia Vergaretti at 703-768-7106 Ext. 326.

United Community Ministries needs tutors to give one-on-one tutoring in areas of poor performance to school-age children who are tested as not performing at grade level. Schedules are worked out between volunteer tutor and student/student's family. UCM recommends Sherwood Hall Library because tutors can reserve study rooms. Interested persons should contact Cecelia Vergaretti at 703-768-7106 Ext. 326.

United Community Ministries needs a volunteer receptionist for afternoon hours (1:30-5 p.m.) at UCM's Main Office at 7511 Fordson Road. There is a critical need for help on Monday and Friday afternoons. Training provided. Interested persons should contact Cecelia Vergaretti at 703-768-7106 Ext. 326.

Haven of Northern Virginia is looking for volunteers. Haven offers support, compassion, information and resources to the bereaved and seriously ill. Haven provides initial training for new volunteers. Trained volunteers can choose from responding to telephone calls, providing one-on-one or group emotional support, outreach and education, and/or conduct community presentations. Call Haven at 703-820-4232 or e-mail info@havenofnova.org.

Our Neighbors Child provides toys and clothing for families in the area who are having a difficult time. Fairfax County determines the families who have the greatest need and then local volunteers work together to meet those needs. The organization is in its 12th year and once again is looking for groups or individuals that would "adopt" the clothing needs of local families for the holiday season. Those interested in helping may contact Tracy McInturff at GMFamily1@aol.com or 703-222-6669 or Holly Cameron at hollycamer@msn.com.

United Community Ministries' Saturday tutoring program needs a driver every Saturday from October to June to pick up children and take them home. UCM can provide the vehicle. To volunteer or for more information, call Cecelia Vergaretti at 703-768-7106, ext. 326.

Project SUCCESS is seeking donations for items to put into transition bags for children who are moving from home into the foster care system without notice. The transition bags are canvas bags filled with items for girls and boys ages newborn to 18. All donated items must be new. Items such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, school supplies, paperback books, key chains, pajamas, underwear and socks, small stuffed animals and toiletries will help make the transition easier for all. These bags will are filled and given to the Fairfax County Family Services Adoption and Foster Care programs. Individuals who would like to make donations or have collected items for this effort should call Mary Wolf at 703-425-6240. TTY 703-222-9693.

Adult volunteers are needed at Heatherwood Retirement Community in Burke for evening and weekend outings with residents. Commitment of one to two hours per month is requested. Call Jan at 703-425-1698.

United Community Ministries needs tutors to work with elementary age children. Spanish is helpful but not required. Spanish speaking volunteers are needed to help adult Hispanic clients with resume writing. Contact: Sue Kelley, volunteer program manager at United Community Ministries, 703-768-7106, ext. 326. For more information, visit www.ucmagency.org.