For the past few years, Marcus and I have participated in Interfaith Outreach’s Holiday Gift Program. Yes, I am aware that it isn’t even Halloween yet and here I am telling everyone about what they can do to help people over the holidays. But bear with me!
Part of the reason I am blogging about this today is because if you live in our area and do not yet know about or support this great organization, I want to give you the opportunity to think about that! The other reason I want to talk about volunteering and philanthropy today is because I don’t think we talk about that enough on the internet. What do we talk about on the internet? Kale. Avocado toast. Polka dot sweaters. Expensive planners. Fancy workout gear that we wear exclusively to run errands.
Those are all perfectly fine things, but they do not form the basis of my life or truly declare who I am as a person. And if I’m not posting about this work because I don’t want to be self-aggrandizing (which I don’t! honest!), that’s valid, but again it looks like my whole life is centered solely around other stuff and other things. Spoiler alert: It’s not.
The community that we live in is considered affluent and yet, Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners (IOCP) is serving 1,700+ families in our area annually in the areas of housing, child care, transportation, and employment. They also have a massive food shelf that distributes 600,000+ pounds of food each year.
In 2012, I spent my Friday afternoons receiving and sorting donations at their food shelf. Looking for bad dents, checking expiration dates and getting that new inventory onto the shelves and into the coolers. I have spent the last month volunteering with their employment group, working on the job board. Each week, I search for local job opportunities that may fit client needs based on education and experience levels and I place them in a display so that everyone who sits in the lobby has a chance to take a look at them if they have that need.
So back to the holiday program. Yesterday, we registered for the 2014 program and were matched with our family of three. In IOCP’s own words:
Each year, IOCP’s Holiday Gift Program matches over 500 families with sponsors who provide gifts or financial support for gifts. Sponsors providing gifts will receive gift suggestions to facilitate shopping, based on a $50-per-person guideline. Participating families range in size from one individual to larger families.
If you’re in our community, I hope that you will consider sponsoring a family (or an individual) as well because it will make a world of difference to them this December. And for those members of the group who live out-of-town/out-of-state, I hope that you have the opportunity to consider what may be available to you in your area!