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'Tis the Season for Giving Back
You can help make the winter holidays brighter for those in need by donating gift cards, food, funds, and other items to local organizations coordinating holiday needs. This includes the agencies serving Montgomery County's Holiday Giving Project, which provides holiday meals and gifts for more than 10,000 local families annually.

Another way to give back this season is to present your friends and family with the gift of service--volunteering in their honor. Pick an activity you think would be meaningful to your loved ones from the Volunteer Center website. (Filter by a favorite "Cause" within our organization search page or use the "Interest" filter while looking for specific activities on our volunteer opportunity search page.) Then sign up and serve. There are virtual volunteer opportunities available, but if time or health constraints keep you from completing your volunteer service before gift-giving time, you could pledge to volunteer for a particular project, perhaps committing to serving regularly for one or more organizations.

Once you decide on a giftable volunteer activity, you can make it official by printing out a Gift of Volunteering certificate offered by the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection as part of its Gift Outside the Box holiday campaign. This program encourages sustainable gift choices to reduce waste, support local businesses, and encourage volunteerism during the holiday season.

Warm Up With Volunteer Service
Winter weather has finally moved in to our area. Fight the chill and feel all warm inside by volunteering! Here are just a few of the hundreds of volunteer positions that local nonprofits and government agencies are currently recruiting for. Use the search box at the top of this email or on any page of the Volunteer Center website to search for more ways to serve.
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ONLINE TUTORS: Support the learning of K-8th grade MCPS students as a virtual tutor in the subjects you know best. Coordinated by the Montgomery County Council of PTAs. Volunteers should be between ages 14 and 18 and must commit to serving one or two hours per week for six to eight weeks. Sign up online or email Pam Loebach.
COMMUNITY VOLUNTEER LEADERS: Help build the volunteer base for American Red Cross in the National Capital Area by remotely meeting with community groups, schools, service clubs, and allied organizations to spread the word about the organization's volunteer needs. The goal is to recruit a volunteer force that is inclusive and representative of the community's demographics. Email ncrvolrecruitment@redcross.org or call 703-584-8444.
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FARM/HISTORY CENTER VOLUNTEERS: Assist with any of a variety of winter tasks for the Button Farm Living History Center in Germantown. Volunteers must be age 16 or older and can help with animal care, gardening, general site maintenance, administrative needs, and more. Social distancing and PPE guidelines followed, and most volunteer assignments take place outdoors. Email Cheryl Lampkin or call 202-903-4140.
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DONATION WAREHOUSE VOLUNTEERS: Pack cases of pajamas, books, and other care package items for kids in foster care, and help with shipping, inventory, and similar tasks related to creating these packages for Comfort Cases. Volunteers of all ages welcome. Sign up online, email Aleks Schiff or call 301-605-7813.
MEAL PREPARERS: Provide continental breakfast, lunches, and/or dinners for 18 residents of Rainbow Place Shelter for Homeless Women in Rockville. Meals can be homemade or store-bought and can be delivered frozen anytime, or fresh by advance arrangement. View meal guidelines. Email Barbara Goodwin or call 301-762-1496.
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Opportunities marked with the graduation cap icon meet the MCPS guidelines for Student Service Learning (SSL) hours--but they're not just for students! Other opportunities may be eligible for SSL hours; visit the MCPS SSL website to learn more.
Food Security Needs
Are You Driven to Help?
If you have a car, a valid driver's license, and an hour or so available, you can serve a critical role in getting food and other necessities to those in need during this health and economic crisis. Many of the food distribution organizations serving our community are looking for drivers to pick up pre-packed boxes or bags of groceries from distribution sites and deliver them to nearby residents. This is generally a contact-less volunteer opportunity, and there are needs across the county, from Germantown to Rockville to Silver Spring.

Don't drive, but want to help? Check out all the ways to serve food needs, including opportunities to help with food packaging and distribution.
MLK Day Event Goes Virtual, Expands to a Week!
Volunteering Together, From a Distance
On Monday, Jan. 18--and throughout that week--join thousands of other area residents to celebrate the life and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through service to our community. Although the Volunteer Center will not be holding our usual large-scale volunteer gatherings due to the pandemic, we will be presenting a variety of service projects that can be completed at home or remotely during the week. 

Specific activities for the Volunteer Center's MLK Day of Service virtual event are still being finalized, but will include favorites like writing letters of encouragement to seniors, creating dog toys for service animals, and crafting no-sew blankets for hospice patients. Plus, there will be many donation opportunities designed to help fill the growing needs in our county during this health and economic emergency.

Registration for specific projects opens in the coming weeks. Watch for an email from the Volunteer Center soon with more details about how to participate.
Watch the Ways to Make a Difference
Make a Difference, a monthly County Cable Montgomery program, highlights the contributions of stellar county volunteers and organizations that work to better our community. This month's episode highlights the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection's Gift Outside the Box initiative, which promotes gift ideas that are good for the planet, and the Montgomery County Holiday Giving Project, a public-private partnership that provides holiday gifts and meals to thousands of local families.
Taking Care While Being a Good Neighbor
As you reach out to help others during the pandemic, please protect yourself and those you are serving by taking the following precautions developed by Montgomery County’s Office of Emergency Management and Department of Health and Human Services:

  • Stay home from all activities when you are sick with COVID-19 symptoms, which may include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
  • Keep away from others who are sick.
  • Limit close physical contact with others as much as possible, keeping at least 6 feet away and using a face covering when that physical distance can't be maintained.
  • Call, email, or text your neighbors who may need help.
  • If they are in need of immediate emergency care, call 911.
  • Limit your help to non-contact activities. For example:
  • Leave groceries on the doorstep. (Do not enter their house.)
  • Make sure to thoroughly wash your hands before touching anything you deliver to them.
  • To promote social interactions and combat loneliness, speak with neighbors on the phone or by video chat (versus going into their homes) on a regular basis.
  • Conduct research on their needs and provide them with resources or connect them directly with help such as feeding, transportation to medical appointments, animal services, etc.
  • Alert authorities if you think that a neighbor is in danger.
  • Do not act on your own.
  • Create an online network for your community.
  • Remember to protect yourself first! Do not put yourself or others at risk.
Subscribe to Our Partner Newsletters
The Montgomery County Volunteer Center is part of the Office of Community Partnerships, which works to strengthen the relationship between the Montgomery County government and the residents it serves, with special emphasis on underserved and emerging communities. Subscribe to the monthly OCP newsletter to keep up with these activities.

Follow these links to subscribe to our other partner agencies' electronic publications:
Montgomery County Volunteer Center
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