Not sure where to go to make the holidays a little brighter this November?

Whether you are an individual looking for some extra assistance or someone looking to help those less fortunate, 2-1-1 is the answer.

In Santa Barbara County, questions about local food banks, free Thanksgiving meals, canned food drives, volunteer opportunities and more can all be answered by dialing one simple number: 2-1-1.

2-1-1 is a free and confidential number that connects residents to essential community information and services, including health care, rent and mortgage assistance, food and shelter, job training, transportation, childcare, senior care, veteran services and more. Without 2-1-1, callers can make an average of eight phone calls to different numbers before finding the service they need.

“Santa Barbara County residents looking for a Thanksgiving meal or to lend a helping hand don’t need to call multiple numbers,” said Bill Batty, executive director of Family Service Agency, which operates 2-1-1 in Santa Barbara County. “By calling 2-1-1, individuals can reach a live person that can help connect them with local organizations and programs dedicated to serving those in need this holiday season.”

» For families and individuals in need of extra assistance, 2-1-1 can provide information on local food banks and supplemental food programs available both during the holidays and throughout the year.

» For volunteers, 2-1-1 can help individuals and groups identify organizations that need help serving and preparing meals, as well as collecting, sorting, packing and delivering donations.

» For charities and organizations, 2-1-1 can help connect programs with those in need, listing organizations as a possible resource in their area and directing them to donation centers.

“Community members can call 2-1-1 24 hours a day, seven days a week and reach a real person,” Batty said. “With specialists able to answer calls in 150 languages, we’re here to connect both those in need and those looking to give this Thanksgiving.”

For more information on 2-1-1 and the types of resources available, click here or call the Family Service Agency at 805.965.1001.

— Debra Roets is the director of community relations/communications for the Family Service Agency.