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The Prado Day Center which offers a variety of self-help, medical, and personal services for homeless and needy people needs volunteers and monetary support. The Center, located at 43 Prado Road in SLO, has traditionally relied on individual contributions to provide as much as 60 percent of the program's budget. Seven days a week, the Center welcomes men, women, children, and elderly people to a hot meal, to use services that include laundry and showers, and to assistance in job and housing searches. During the holiday season, the Prado Day Center will also accept new, unwrapped gifts for clients of all ages infants to elderly. To make a donation, call 786-0617 or stop by the center.

For those who love Italian, Mama's Meatball is the real deal: fine Italian take-out at a great price and made by real Italians. Locals who've grown to love Mama's Meatball can now dine in. The new dining room serves the full menu at the same price without the plastic utensils. Mama's Meatball is located at 570 Higuera, in the Creamery. For more info on menus and hours, call 544-0861.

SLO has a new destination for downtown revelers to satisfy their late-night cravings. Belgian fries from Bel Frites aren't just good for the soul with zero trans-fats and fresh garlic seasonings to top them off, they're good for the heart, too. Located next to Downtown Brew at 1127 Garden St., they open at noon Tuesday through Sunday, and stay open till 2:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The fries are cooked twice, so they're less greasy than conventional French fries. They maintain the perfect balance between fluffy mashed potato inside and crispy fried perfection on the outside. But the real secret to the superior product is freshness. For more info on Bel Frites, call 784-0422.

The North County Women's Shelter is looking for weekend and after-hours volunteers to provide assistance to victims of domestic violence. The shelter is also seeking volunteers to drive clients to court dates and assist in fundraising. For more info, call 461-1338.

Everyone is invited to get into the holiday spirit on Dec. 21 at St. Benedict's Episcopal Church. Enjoy cookies, cider, and, of course, caroling. Donations will be taken for the Maxine Lewis Memorial Homeless Shelter otherwise, the event is free. St. Benedict's is located at 2220 Snowy Egret Road in Los Osos. For more info, call 528-0654.

The Monarchs are back! Come learn about the butterflies every day at the Pismo Monarch grove off of Hwy. 1, north of Grand Avenue. Docents are on hand between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to answer questions, and there will be a presentation between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily. The Central Coast Natural History Association and the Pismo Nature Center will have docent-led hikes at state park locations around the county, offering information on topics from plate tectonics to the beavers of the Oceano lagoons. For more info, call 772-2694.

Kylie Mendonca compiled this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send your business news to

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