4.10.09

Kids' food drive

I spent yesterday raising money and collecting food for those in need in my community. Volunteering is extremely important to me and it's something I got out of my way to involve my children in.

Yesterday was a prime example of how you can be a parent of two with a full time job and still get out in your community to make a difference. The first part of the day we sold concessions at a local football game, but the second part of the day we collected non-perishable foods from area neighborhoods. If you're interested in getting your children involved in a fun, active project, you should try the food drive.

Here's how we do it:

--Collect paper grocery bags. We have done this in different ways. You could ask your friends and family to give you their paper bags, ask for a handful of paper bags each time you go to the grocery store, or ask a store to donate bags. A local Food Lion donated 500 bags to us last year and those have lasted us through this year.

--Create a flyer that tells all about your project, including what you're collecting, why you're collecting it, when you'll collect it, and where you'll donate what you collect. Staple the flier to one side of each paper bag. Let people know that all they need to do to donate is fill their bag and then set it outside for you.

--Leave the bags on your neighbors' doorsteps. Javi and I (along with other families) walked around five neighborhoods, but you could easily scale down this project and just leave bags for your neighbors. On a Tuesday, we left bags on everyone's doorsteps and then we came back on Saturday afternoon to pick them up.

Those who participated in the food drive left their filled bags back on their doorsteps. We didn't knock on doors, we didn't try to convince people to donate -- if there was no bag, we kept moving. On drop-off day we did everything on foot, but on pick-up day, we drove around with a pick-up truck and the kids got to sit in the back.

--Take the bags to your local food pantry. Once you've picked up all the bags people have set back out for you, drive it over to your food pantry or shelter. If your choice of food pantry is a popular donation spot, you may want to coordinate drop off with them so that they can make room for the donated food. You might also choose to divide your bags between different charities if you have a particularly big haul -- which will depend on how many bags you hand out.

We never alert our people when we're coming, but that's because we always donate to the same place -- an addiction recovery mission -- and no one else chooses to donate to them. Therefore, they are always in need.

Slight variation: In years past, we have also gotten one of the local middle schools involved. We brought boxes over to the middle schools and asked the 6th graders to compete against each other. The homeroom that collected the most food in their box won a pizza party. However, this isn't something one family could easily coordinate and pay for.

Our results: This year we distributed 260 empty paper bags on Tuesday and picked 60 of them back up on Saturday. While it would feel disheartening to know that 200 families chose not to participate in the food drive, we try to think more positively. 60 families chose to share their food -- and their hearts -- with those who are less fortunate. Several families told us that they shopped purposely to fill their bags with wholesome, healthy foods.

This is my family's favorite volunteer project, and that's because our hearts swell up (as do our eyes) when we deliver our bags of food to people who are struggling so hard to carve out a better life for themselves. I guarantee you that no matter how bags you hand out or how much food you are able to donate -- you'll create a memory and feeling for your children that they will never forget.

Let me know if you try it!

This is what works for me. What works for you?

6 comments:

  • Susan Berlien (warmchocmilk)

    Wow. Full time job, two kids and your volunteering too. Ok.... Standing ovation! :)
    P.S.I'm following you!

  • Kelly @ The Miller Mix

    Hey Susan - thanks for the compliments. I have to say that it would be really hard without a supportive partner, but we both place a high value on exposing our kids to community activism and volunteerism. Also, we try to do things that are kid-friendly so it becomes a family experience rather than something that takes me/him out of the family.

  • { L }

    I'm impressed!! Way to get out there and serve. You've inspired me. Thank you.

  • Cheryl

    What an awesome thing to do, Kelly!

  • Anonymous

    Hey girl that is really nice. I live in a small town so there is not really anyone to help the people in the town that needs help so this is my first year in college and i was wanting to know how I could do a food drive by myself just for a few familys if you could help that would be great.

  • Kelly @ The Miller Mix

    Anon - I would just do the bags in a smaller scale. Maybe do your dorm or your apartment complex. Then take the food you collect to a local church. Usually the churches have a list of those in need. Good luck!

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