January 4, 2010

Holiday Helpings Volunteer Wrap-Up

Whew, we made it! After two months and some 8,000 turkeys, over 300 volunteers came through Bread for the City’s two food pantries and helped to prepare holiday dinners, pack bags of groceries, organize donations, unload trucks, sort clothing, break down boxes, move equipment, bag produce and many other big and little tasks that have helped facilitate a very successful Holiday Helpings campaign this year. (Oops: last year!)

We had volunteers helping out every day we were open in November and December in both centers, and every one of them was a blessing. Not only did we have the groups come that we've thanked here before (and here), but we were also helped by individuals and families from our local communities in Shaw and Anacostia, and from all around the DC metropolitan area. I could never be in both centers at once to meet each of these volunteers, but I heard through Bread for the City staff that they were always eager, willing, enthusiastic, and flexible enough to do whatever was needed for us to best serve our clients--the best sorts of volunteers.

We made some lasting friends, as well. Some families and groups that volunteered are going to come back again in 2010, and some individuals who helped out have applied for longer term volunteer positions.

Stephen Fee brought his co-workers from the PBS NewsHour to our pantry — but their desire to help out wasn't satiated by the pile of grocery bags they packed, so they are returning in January for more.

On left: food packages stacked to the roof!

Kris Jones volunteered in our Southeast Center and noticed the need of our clothing room for more shelves, so she and her family have offered to return and re-shelve, re-paint and otherwise overhaul our clothing room.

Many other groups have promised to return. A few of our volunteers who were completing their court-ordered community service hours stuck on beyond their assigned shifts to help during the busy holidays, and plan to come back in the new year. I am thrilled by the dedication of all of these people, and their good wills have assuaged some of my worries of Holiday volunteer retention.

It was certainly inspiring to be in the middle of all of this and to witness people coming from all walks of life and various neighborhoods simply to meet the needs of our client community. I thank all of the volunteers and Bread staff that made Holiday Helpings a success.

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