Winter Initiatives

As winter rolls around, we often get together with our friends and family, dress up in our cozy holiday sweaters, bust out some holiday music and enjoy a feast. However, this time of year, we should remember that not everyone is fortunate enough to enjoy those luxuries.

Last month, Volunteer MBC talked about how to start your own volunteer initiatives. This month, we want to encourage YOU to take ACTION. With winter in mind:

START AN INITIATIVE         

Packing Party

The Idea

A packing party is a get-together where volunteers build care packages for shelter occupants. Volunteers are asked to donate care package items or a small fee to cover the costs of purchased care package items.

Steps

  1. Pick a shelter where you will donate your packages.
  2. Create a list of shelter items your care package will contain. Most shelters will provide a longer list that you can narrow down. If not, consider these easy and affordable items
  • toothbrushes
  • toothpaste
  • lotion
  • shampoo
  • conditioner
  • soaps
  • sanitary pads
  1. Collect estimated attendance OR collect items and/or money from participants.
  2. Buy items ahead of time based on estimated attendance OR items/money received.
  3. Dedicate one day to the packaging of items.
  4. Deliver the packages to the shelter.
NOTE: Mass care packages can create a lot of waste. DO consider your environmental impact by buying bulk or environmentally-friendly packaging.

Volunteers Required 

You will need:

  • 1-2 volunteers to collect care package items.
  • 1-2 volunteers to donate and pack items.
NOTE: The capacity of your volunteer site will likely depend on your location and funding. You may want to put a lower and upper limit on your number of volunteers to assure you can afford the materials.
  • 1-2 volunteers to deliver the packages to the shelter.

Craft Circle

The Idea

A craft circle allows volunteers to craft items, based on interest, to donate to a charities or nonprofits. The process may include tutorial sessions or online instructions. These crafts can be done individually or in groups.

Steps

  1. Pick a charity or nonprofit where you will donate your crafts.
  2. Create a list of crafts you would like to create. Most charities or non-profits will provide a list that you can choose from. Sample crafts are:
  • knitting scarves or hats
  • no-knit scarves or hats
  • holiday cards for kids in hospitals
  1. Allow participants to create crafts from their own homes or set up dates for group crafts.
  2. Collect crafts.
  3. Donate crafts to charities.

Volunteers Required 

You will need:

  • 1-2 volunteers managing each craft.
  • 1-2 volunteers to collect and donate items.

Food Drive

The Idea

A food drive is a setup that allows locals to drop off dry foods to donate to charity.

Steps

  • Decide on the charity you want to donate food items to.
  • Create a list of acceptable items. Most charities will provide a list.
  • Collect items over a chosen time period (between 1 week and 1 month).
  • Deliver food items to the charity.

Volunteers Required 

You will need:

  • 1-2 volunteers to set up the donation box.
  • 1-2 volunteers to check over the contents of the donation box and deliver the donations to the charity.

Item Swap

The Idea

The Item Swap is an event that allows individuals to donate old items in exchange for new items (if they wish!). The goal of the event is to minimize waste by reusing items within the community.  Participants will get opportunities to bring in unwanted items and get tickets in return. This is done over a short time period decided by whoever is planning the event. Then, on a designated date the collected items would be available for people to obtain by exchanging their tickets.

An item swap consists of three stages:

COLLECTION PERIOD: People donate items in exchange for tickets.

THE SWAP: People exchange their tickets for donated items.

DONATION: Any unclaimed items are donated to charity or nonprofits.

Steps

  1. Pick a charity or nonprofit where you will donate your items.
  2. Decide on a ticket system: one-to-one or one-to-many.
TIP: try a digital ticket system for a greener approach.
  1. Create a list of items you will collect. Consider:
  • books and magazines
  • toys and games
  • clothes and accessories
  • decorative items and houseware
  1. Collect items over a chosen time period (between 1 week and 1 month).
  2. Dedicate one or two days to the actual swap.
  3. Donate any remaining items to a charity or nonprofit.
NOTE: some charities or nonprofits will pick up items at your location at no cost!

Volunteers Required 

You will need:

  • 1-2 volunteers per collection shift.
  • 2-4 volunteers on the day of the swap.
  • 1-2 volunteers to deliver the leftover items to the charity or nonprofit.\

Have you started any winter initiatives? Send us an email and tell us about your experience!  

Written By Florence Cao, Volunteer Content Writer