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The Easter Seals Family Friends program is looking for volunteers who are 55 years old and older to be a friend to a family raising a child with a chronic illness or disability.

Children who need a Family Friend range in age from birth to 12 years old. For instance, in Orem, a 4-year-old child with Down syndrome needs a volunteer to help assist with therapy, reading stories and playing games.Volunteers must be available four hours per week, and can choose the child from among the families that are in need. Days and times are flexible and are arranged directly with the family.

Family Friend volunteers are more than a friend to the child in need. They become an advocate for the family by identifying potential problems and helping meet special needs. That helps save time and money for the family and community.

Volunteers visit the family's home to play games, read stories, listen to music and talk with the children. They can also help with homework and school activities or lend a supportive shoulder and listening ear to an overworked parent. The only skills needed are time and patience.

Other volunteer opportunities are available throughout Utah County. Some include:

- Tutor adults in reading and writing. Project Read, a local literacy program, is looking for tutors to give one-on-one help to adults wanting to improve their literacy skills. Tutors are asked to meet with their students twice a week for one and a half hours. Volunteers are trained and given materials for instructing adults.

- Teach less-fortunate families how to make Christmas gifts. Small groups are needed to conduct Make-It Take-It craft workshops, in which volunteers plan, provide supplies for, and teach how to make small gifts or holiday decorations in 15 to 20 minutes.

Make-It Take-It workshops are part of the Sub-for-Santa program. Volunteers are needed to teach classes on one of the Saturday workshops Nov. 16, 23 or Dec. 7 or 14, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Sub-for-Santa program is also seeking volunteer sponsors who are available to help families on short notice before Christmas and volunteers who can deliver Angel Tree gifts to families in need.

- Perform musical numbers for hospital patients. The Hospital Arts Program is looking for adult volunteer musicians and other artists who can share their skills with patients and retirees. The purpose of the Hospital Arts Program is to enhance the environment of hospitals and to increase the appreciation for beauty. Volunteers are needed for one hour per week to perform classical music, folk tunes or hymns.

For more information about these and other volunteer opportunities call the United Way Volunteer Center at 374-8108.