Volunteer from Home on MLK Day

Volunteer from Home on Martin Luther King Day!

Many people want to give back on MLK Day and do something to help others.

However, many non-profits are closed in observance of the holiday.  Fortunately, there’s a great way to volunteer from home and to help those who are experiencing homelessness. It’s great for family, friends, any size group, and all ages!

With that in mind, here’s a special project for you and your family on MLK Day: make gift bags for the homeless.

Here’s how to make gift bags for the homeless with your family on MLK Day.

Step 1:

Meet the people you’ll helping: 

Homelessness can be a faceless, nameless problem that seems abstract. Fortunately, two wonderful organizations produced pictures and videos for this exact purpose.

Meet Jerry. At the time of this interview with Jerry, was homeless.  Here’s his story: Jerry’s story

Jerry. Image credit: Focus for the Good

Listen to Jerry’s story

This lady is named Pat. Does she fit your image of homelessness? Pat’s story

Pat. Image credit: Focus for the Good

Listen to Pat’s story

And this is Tarvis. What is his life like? Tarvis’s story

Tarvis. Image credit: Focus for the Good

Listen to Tarvis’s story

There are also a lot of families and children who are homeless. Dorothy Day House of Hospitality in Memphis is a refuge for these families.

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Watch this video about the Dorothy Day House

Maybe you found some parts sad or shocking. I hope you found something that resonated with you and challenged how you envision homelessness. I hope you feel inspired to help.

Step 2:
Make a list of items to include

You can build your own gift bags with anything you like. We used gallon sized bags but quart sized bags are very common for this project as well. Here are some ideas of items to include:

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Hand lotion
  • Gum
  • Healthy snacks (individual servings of peanut butter, applesauce, dried fruit, granola bars, tuna fish and crackers along with disposable utensils)
  • A list of places (addresses and phone numbers) that provide services for the homeless
  • Socks, gloves, hats
  • Gift cards for fast food restaurants and public transit
  • Bottled water
  • Razor and shaving cream
  • Chapstick
  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Inspirational message or helpful information

When planning healthy snacks, consider that many of the homeless are missing teeth and cannot easily eat hard foods like peanuts. Fruit cocktail, applesauce and soft fruit bars are more accessible for everyone.

Step 3:
Collect or purchase materials for your gift bags

Open all of the packages and make your assembly line

 

photo3 (1)Step 4:
Assemble!

With your friends and family, form an assembly line and place one of each item into the bag.

The final product

The final product

Step 5:
Donate!

You can donate these to one of the many wonderful organizations in Memphis that serve the homeless. Here are a few:
Urban Bicycle Food Ministry: Email Frank 
Room in the Inn Memphis: Email Lisa
St Mary’s Soup Kitchen: Email Martin
Need more ideas for places to donate in Memphis?  Email us!

Step 6:
Tell us about it!

We’d love to share your family’s project. Email us or share it on our Facebook page.

Looking at the pictures and watching the videos will give you and your family a better sense of who you would be helping and it reminds us to be thankful for our warm homes and our families. This is a great project for any age and any size group. Everyone can help with selecting the items and filling the bags.

 

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If you’re looking for more way to get involved, Visit our Calendar of Volunteer Opportunities or our Virtual Volunteer Fair – Volio!

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Find Volunteer Opportunities

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Virtual Volunteer Fair Connect with a Cause

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Very special thank you to for helping us share how you can volunteer from home in Memphis:

  • Bill Piacesi and the Focus for the Good team
  • Beth Halldorson and Liz McKee of Baker Donelson

Putting the “I” in Service

By Dannon Eubanks
Emerging Leader
University of Memphis

Volunteering at the Carpenter Art Garden in Memphis

Volunteering at the Carpenter Art Garden in Memphis

As an Emerging Leader at the University of Memphis, volunteering is a requirement. It’s easy to involve yourself in something when your scholarship is dependent on it. What’s not so easy is to transition yourself from doing something as a chore to doing something because you got more out of it than just a signature. They say doing something for twenty-one days makes it become a habit, but I don’t think it takes twenty-one volunteer experiences for that to become a habit. It takes something much simpler yet not often enough grasped. All it takes to make a habit out of volunteering is heart. What I have found is that when you put love into serving, you get love out of it. You get out what you put in. With that being said, being a college athlete trying to find time to volunteer, no matter how much heart for serving I have, can be extremely difficult. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without the Volunteer Odyssey calendar this semester. I can sit down with my personal calendar and pull up the volunteer calendar and easily be able to tell what I am free to do. Along with that, I have access to contact information and details about the posted events. Because of the Volunteer Odyssey Calendar, I have had the blessing of working with the Carpenter Art Garden, the Dorothy Day House of Hospitality, Urban Bicycle Food Ministry and Jacob’s Well. These opportunities have not only helped me maintain my scholarship by fulfilling my hours, they have given me experiences I will never forget with people I never would have had the privilege to meet otherwise. I have been blessed not only by the calendar and the peace of mind it gives me, but also by every hour I have served. These hours don’t just go towards my scholarship, they go towards my life lessons. As Gandhi once said, “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Another great way to find yourself is with fellowship with others. Being able to experience these things with people I know and love makes it all the much better. I have recommended the Volunteer Odyssey Calendar to fellow Emerging Leaders who need the hours, to my peers who simply want to be more involved around Memphis, and to church organizations who want to spread God’s love by serving, All in all, no matter what the cause, the Volunteer Odyssey Calendar is a blessing to all those grateful enough to have found it.

Dannon Eubanks is a freshman Emerging Leader at the University of Memphis. She is a distance runner for the University of Memphis Track and Field team and an active participant in the school’s Presbyterian collegiate ministry UKirk. She is from Brownsville, TN.

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Are you ready to volunteer? Start with these:

1) Visit our Calendar of Volunteer Opportunities

2) Check out our Virtual Volunteer Fair – Volio

3) Get updates

4) Or connect with us on Facebook