CarMax was up and ready at 8:00am to volunteer with us on Friday, March 6. It was our first time hosting CarMax at our warehouse and it was awesome getting to know some of the businesses that make our community so great. Around 10 CarMax employees came in to help our WGYB families pick out the food that they wanted to take home. CarMax also helped sort some of our food donations to make it easier for our families. Thank you, CarMax, for all your help and we look forward to strengthening our partnership with you!
With the Natural Products Expo West being in Anaheim this year, employees of United Natural Foods, Inc. reached out to GCHope so they could volunteer with us while they were in the area. They dropped by our warehouse on Thursday, March 5 to pack over 200 backpacks of nutritious food! We had the privilege of hosting UNFI employees from all over the country – from Washington to Missouri to New Hampshire. As “the leading independent national distributor of natural, organic and specialty foods,” UNFI was a great asset to our WGYB program that day. Thank you, UNFI, for all your hard work and help and we hope to see you again soon!
Thanks to the seventy Thrivent Members that came by this Saturday to volunteer!
Helping out in our We’ve Got Your Back & Giving For Living programs, they helped get us ahead of schedule for these two programs this week. They helped us by packing over 250 backpacks and sorting through 9 pallets of basic needs inventory. All of these resources will be getting into the hands of vulnerable children and families here in Southern California over the next weeks and months. Thank you so much for supporting these children!!
We had a great time hosting you and hope to see you all again soon.
GCHope exists because of Volunteers. I know its hard for me to sound sincere about this while writing a blog on GCHope’s website, but it’s 100% accurate. Just think for a second about the 1,100+ backpacks that get filled with 20 pounds of food every single week. It would take half of our 18 staff members working just on that every week to make sure it gets done right. Thanks to our weekly 50-60 volunteers who help with this process, our staff can spend our energy on delivering the backpacks, coordinating with families and schools, fundraising and administration, not to mention the other two programs we run every week that demand equal portions of our time.
There is simply no way we could do it all without our volunteers. Over the past four years, it has been my privilege to work with, coordinate and meet many of the 3,000 volunteers that serve alongside us each year. During this time, I have learned several things about how volunteers really can make a significant impact for the vulnerable children and families we serve. All our volunteers are wonderful, but every once in a while a volunteer goes well above the call of duty to serve children in need.
Here are a few things you can do to be a volunteer that makes a difference:
1. Ask Questions
Our staff are neck deep in the tasks they need to do every day/week/month and sometimes we forget that you can’t see all the details we do. Be intentionally curious about why you are doing what you are doing. The more you know about our programs, how they function and where you fit in that process, the more we can rely on you to do your job effectively.
2. Look for ways to take Ownership
Though it may seem like a simple thing, volunteers that can be relied on to own a particular task make a huge difference in our ability to serve. For example, when you become a leader for other volunteers, teaching them what needs to be done, you are making it easier to reach more kids with our program. I can’t emphasize this enough! We want you to see the volunteer-staff relationship as peer-to-peer, not employee-supervisor. You are a part of the team and we want you to own that! Ask for responsibilities. Look for opportunities to be trained as a volunteer leader.
3. Speak your Mind
We can’t expect you to be part of the team without good communication. You are in the middle of the work and your feedback is extremely valuable. There may even be times when we have different opinions about things, but your point of view can only help make our programs stronger.
4. Connect your circles to the Mission
When you hear that we have a need for a web developer and you know your cousin would be willing to donate some of her expertise, reach out to her for us. If we ask her, it simply won’t mean as much. Is your office looking to help out during the holidays? Make sure they know about our toy drive. You are the best ambassador to your networks. If you believe in the mission, they may want to as well.
An actively engaged and deeply integrated volunteer force is one of GCHope’s most valuable assets. Every week they make it possible for us to reach 4,000 kids with nutritious and stable food supplies. If you haven’t joined this team yet, we need you! Sign up to be a volunteer today and remind these children that is a whole army of people who care about them and want to see them live and eat healthy.
This week GCHope got to meet some new friends from Chili’s! A group of General Managers came to volunteer as part of their management meeting. We didn’t have much time with them, but my goodness, were they able to accomplish a lot. This group of 26 volunteers packed over 200 backpacks of food for vulnerable children in Orange County. In addition to packing backpacks, they packed 280 bags of vegetables, 100 bags of fruit, and cleaned 280 backpacks to be ready for the next group to pack! WGYB Coordinator America Tapia said, “They were an amazing group! They did so much valuable work.” GCHope is always encouraged to see more great companies taking part in our mission to serve vulnerable children and families. Thanks Chili’s for your passion to make this world a better place!
Michelle, a US Bank employee, volunteers at her church three times a week. Volunteering is a part of her life. “I volunteer because I love it,” Michelle said. GCHope was blessed to be one of her weekly volunteer opportunities when US Bank sent us around 130 volunteers! US Bank is one of our favorite partners and gives their employees a volunteer opportunity every quarter.
Volunteer Julie Gonzales said, “I’ve lived just around the corner in Buena Park for years and I had no idea the kind of work you guys are doing here! It’s amazing to be a part of it.”
With US Bank’s help we were able pack and prepare 276 backpacks of food for families in need, sort through 8 pallets of donated food, and pack 500 bags of produce for WGYB families. In addition, these incredible volunteers were able to sort clothing and first aid supplies going to Syrian refugees, as well as build donated furniture and other supplies. It was a tremendous amount of work accomplished! In total, US Bank volunteers finished a week’s worth of work for the GCHope warehouse staff. They were incredible volunteers and did it all with a smile. Thank you US Bank!
We are very thankful to have had Best Buy stop buy to volunteer this past Wednesday! Our volunteers help us so much, especially during the holidays. With Christmas approaching in just one week, you could imagine how thankful we are to have a team of enthusiastic volunteers. These excited volunteers were more than ready to help. Their energy and holiday spirit lifted the office. We loved having Best Buy participate in our mission of serving vulnerable children and families across the street and around the world. Thanks Best Buy!
It all began when a GCHope volunteer suggested that her kid’s martial arts studio do a toy drive for GCHope during December. This small idea grew to be a contagious movement throughout the community and turned into a toy, food, and cash drive for the vulnerable children GCHope serves. In one month the American Martial Arts Academy in Fullerton raised $1,600 and around $300 worth of toys and food for underprivileged children. GCHope is so grateful to the couple hundred families that showed up in a big way for families in need this Christmas. This is an incredible amount and we can’t believe how one martial arts academy could be behind all this. Thank you American Martial Arts Academy and all those who participated!
The Christmas season means three things to GCHope staff: presents for thousands of children, Wrapping Parties, and controlled chaos. GCHope has finished the process of distributing thousands of donated gifts to the underprivileged children in We’ve Got Your Back (WGYB). We are so grateful to the companies, churches, groups, and individuals for showing up this Christmas in a big way for these children.
Believe it or not, once the gifts have all arrived and sorted, the work isn’t done yet. GCHope reaches out to our family of donors and friends to help us wrap them all! It’s not a Christmas present if it isn’t wrapped and ready to be put under the tree! In the last four weeks GCHope has had over 200 elves join us for our evening Wrapping Parties to help make this Christmas a special one for so many WGYB children. The grand total of gifts wrapped and distributed to vulnerable children is over 4,000! Thank you everyone for helping making this Christmas possible for GCHope and the WGYB kids.
We love seeing how enthusiastic children can be about giving back to the community. When a group of Camp Fire girls came into GCHope, we were stunned by what they did. A group of 12 Camp Fire girls came together to created an amazing food drive in their own community of Long Beach. This group of young girls had brown bags donated from Fresh and Easy. They attached a flyer to each bag asking for donations of canned or boxed food and left these empty bags on the porches of houses in their community. When the girls returned at the end of the week to collect the donations, they had an overwhelming amount of support from their neighbors. Together, the Camp Fire girls collected over 188 pounds of food for homeless children in Orange County! Thank you, Camp Fire girls for participating in our mission of serving vulnerable children and families. We cannot wait to have you come back!