Hundreds of senior citizens are set to volunteer at the 31st annual Palm Springs International Film Festival that begins Thursday.

A $40,000 grant from the Palm Desert-based Auen Foundation helped pay for the recruitment, training, management and retention of festival volunteers, along with subsidizing the cost of film festival tickets for senior volunteers, senior centers and community groups, according to the nonprofit.

Of the 800 volunteers, more than 90% are seniors, said Sherrie Auen, the foundation’s program director.

“We believe this partnership with the Palm Springs International Film Festival enriches the lives of our local seniors by providing them more access to this world-class event and getting them involved in their community,” she said. “Volunteering helps people feel valued, and our seniors have so much to contribute.”

The volunteers will help out with such tasks as counting ballots, taking tickets and welcoming guests to the festival, which runs through Jan. 13.

Prior to the festival, volunteers assist festival staff by answering phones, performing clerical functions and distributing posters and rack cards. They also get a chance to participate in the screening process, according to the foundation.

For more information on the film festival, visit www.psfilmfest.org, or call 760-778-8979.

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