Now that the mandatory gift-giving season is over, how about giving from your heart?

Nothing feels as good as doing something for someone or some-”thing” else. Why not start 1995 off by helping the other homeless – the animals abandoned, abused or neglected.

That’s how I started with the SPCA. And you can’t use the excuse, “I can’t stand to see those faces,” because there are plenty of opportunities where you don’t have to (although that’s what always kept me going).

The most precious gift you can give is your time. Whether it’s an hour a week on your lunch break to walk a dog, stroke a kitty’s neck or going through the volunteer orientation to become an adoption counselor, this time will definitely pay off.

Volunteer orientations take place at the SPCA monthly – just call 651-9611, ext. 123, for a recording of where and when.

Foster-parenting ranges from an overnight for an animal recuperating from day surgery to taking in a momma dog and her pups until they are weaned. My sister participated in this program. It’s about a four- to eight-week commitment, or forever if you fall in love with them, like my sister did.

Are looks important to you? How about taking your shampooing or clipping skills and help with grooming once a week. Everyone looks and feels better after a bath and haircut – even animals.

So far I’ve given you opportunities where you have to look at the faces, hold the paws, and snuggle with the fur, but you may not want to do that. You’re not off the hook.

The SPCA has a benefit store located in Addison called REPEATS! They always need gently worn clothes, accessories, furniture, books, toys, anything that can be resold to raise money for the animals. Either donate items or your time as a sales person or sorter. Shifts are available Monday through Saturday, so call 241-8066 for information.

The shelter periodically has arts and crafts sales and is always in need of talented people. Or if you like to plan parties or events, the SPCA has a name for you – Event Coordinator. You can create a fund-raiser or work on one that is already established like the black tie Fur Ball, Wiggle Waggle Walkathon, the Love Run or Pet Pal Central at the Dallas Zoo to name a few.

Did I mention that it’s also a great way to improve your social life? By volunteering, you’ll meet the best folks on earth, because that’s what animal lovers are.

These are just a few ways to get involved. Don’t be content just sitting back and letting someone else do the work. Be a hero to the creatures who cannot take care of themselves.

You won’t get paid monetarily, but you will get unconditional love. And what could be better than that?