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Best Places to Share Brotherly Love 

Though we couldn't possibly mention all the wonderful places to volunteer in this town, three stand out in our experience. And if none of these organizations hits home for you, visit www.volunteerinfo.org for more ideas.

Habitat for Humanity San Francisco

78 Ocean (at Alemany), 406-1555,

www.habitatsf.org

Habitat for Humanity offers a hands-on way to combat substandard housing -- and also teaches you how to use power tools. We all know how bad the housing market is in the Bay Area; Habitat allows low-income families to get interest-free loans and pay "sweat equity" (joining volunteers in constructing their homes) to afford a quality place to live. Spend a day building a house (and we do mean building; this isn't fluff work) and your muscles may ache but your heart will be full.

Pets Are Wonderful Support

3248 16th St. (at Guerrero), 241-1460, www.pawssf.org

PAWS is a great place for animal lovers to do something worthwhile for humans. Here, workers tend the pets (walking dogs, brushing cats, feeding birds) that people with HIV and AIDS want to keep but can't take care of. You get all the benefits of pet ownership -- sloppy kisses, admiration from passers-by, hair on your clothes -- without having to find a pet-friendly apartment. At the same time, you're helping sick folks benefit from the unconditional love of another living creature.

Hands On San Francisco

330 Townsend (at Fourth Street), Suite 137, 541-9616,

www.hosf.org

This is the organization for busy people who can't commit regular time to one program but who still want to help. The newsletter and Web site highlight one-off volunteer opportunities -- a few hours here and there bringing animals to a senior center, reading to kids, or planting trees.

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