Thanksgiving food basket
Food Assistance Volunteers Serve Critical Role
We know we've been talking a lot lately about food insecurity and ways to help. But that's because food assistance needs have been relentless, affecting every zip code in Montgomery County throughout the COVID-19 health and economic emergency. And with Thanksgiving and the winter holidays approaching--a time when many nonprofits that supply food are called upon to help even more--the need is now especially critical.

Ready to help? Here is a sampling of the food-related volunteer and donor opportunities found on the Volunteer Center website.
FOOD PACKAGERS: Mondays-Thursdays, 10 am-12:30 pm, in Germantown, plus Wednesdays, 11:30 am-1:30 pm, and Thursdays, 10 am-12 noon, in Silver Spring. Create boxes of groceries and other supplies for home-bound families on behalf of KindWorks. Volunteers work in socially spacious rooms and must wear masks. Minimum age: 15. Sign up online for Germantown, sign up online for Silver Spring, email Debra Lang, or call 301-246-2452.
FOOD WAREHOUSE ASSISTANTS: Weekdays, 9 am-1 pm, Gaithersburg. Receive food donations, organize shelves, tidy the warehouse, and help with a range of other tasks at Manna Food Center. Volunteers must be able to work independently and be capable of light to moderate lifting. Minimum age: 16. Email Katie Sayago or call 301-424-1130.
DELIVERY DRIVERS: Wednesdays, 11 am-12:30 pm, Gaithersburg. Deliver boxes of food from the Gaithersburg CARES Hub to families in need. Drivers must be at least age 18 and have access to their own vehicles and cell phones. Most volunteers make five or six deliveries per shift. Sign up online, email Sooky McFadden, or call 301-793-3321.
DISTRIBUTION EVENT VOLUNTEERS: Sundays, 1-4 pm, in Aspen Hill, Rockville, Wheaton, or Silver Spring. Help set up mobile sites, pack boxes of food, and distribute to families served by Mid-County United Ministries. Personal protective equipment provided and social distance guidelines followed. Minimum age: 12. Email Larry White or call 301-929-8675.
COOKS, BAKERS, AND FOOD DONORS: Make sandwiches, casseroles, and baked goods and/or create bags of rice and beans for food insecure families served by Kokua Foods, a program of Small Things Matter. Donations must be dropped off on specific days in Takoma Park. Email Roxanne Yamashita or call 202-669-8550.
FOOD REQUEST COORDINATORS: Working from home on behalf of Gaithersburg Help, retrieve and respond to voicemail requests for food assistance, including arranging for pickup or delivery of groceries. Volunteers must have basic computer skills and their own computers. Minimum age: 21. Email volunteer@gaithersburghelp.org or call 301-216-2510.
Thanks for Giving This Month
People often associate volunteering in November with serving Thanksgiving meals, but shelters are strictly limiting in-person volunteer service during the pandemic (and in typical years are fortunate to fill their holiday meal service slots early--usually with regular volunteers). There are many other ways to do something meaningful this month, however.

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.
CLOTHING CENTER ASSISTANTS: Sort and organize donated clothes and household goods and help with other tasks at the Interfaith Works Clothing Center, which distributes donated items free of charge for county residents in need. Volunteers must attend an orientation session prior to service. Minimum age: 14. Sign up online, email Mike Grant, or call 240-641-6305.
TAX PREPARERS AND MORE: Work remotely to help low- and moderate-income residents complete their taxes through the Community Action Agency of Montgomery County's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Volunteers can serve as tax preparers, quality reviewers, schedulers, or interpreters; all roles require internet access and a computer. Training provided. Minimum age: 18. Email VITA@montgomerycountymd.gov or call 240-777-1123.
WEED WARRIORS: Remove non-native, invasive plants from local parks on upcoming weekend days, including Saturdays, Nov. 14 and 28. Sponsored by the City of Rockville. Volunteers must supply their own face coverings and should bring gloves, pruners, and loppers if they have them. (Gloves and tools available to borrow otherwise.) Minimum age: 14 or younger if accompanied by an adult. Email Chuck Woolery or call 240-997-2209.
EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE INTAKE COORDINATORS: Answer calls from Rockville residents facing eviction or utility shutoff and provide them with information about available assistance. Volunteers with the Rockville Emergency Assistance Program, operated by Community Reach of Montgomery County, serve once a week, 9 am-1 pm or 1-5 pm, at the organization's Rockville office. (In-person contact with staff and clients is very limited.) Training provided. Minimum age: 18. Email Andrea Kempner-Wink or call 301-637-0730 x239.
COVID-19 TEST SITE ASSISTANTS: Support Montgomery County's community testing efforts by providing logistical assistance, client instruction, or data entry at sites throughout the county. (Those with medical backgrounds may also be eligible to help with specimen collection.) Sponsored by the Montgomery County Medical Reserve Corps. Test sites are designed to minimize contact and volunteers are provided face coverings and PPE appropriate to their roles. Minimum age: 18. Apply online, email Jessica Pryor, or call 240-777-1170.
BENCH MAPPERS: Locate and provide details on benches throughout Montgomery County as a resource for older adults and others who may need frequent breaks while walking in our neighborhoods. Data collected by volunteers is incorporated in Empowering the Ages's "Where's My Bench" online map. Email Leah Bradley or call 301-476-0186.
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.
Save the Date!
A Different Look for MLK Day of Service in 2021
Every year for more than two decades, local residents have come together to honor the life and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by serving our community on MLK Day, the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service. In 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Volunteer Center will not be holding our usual large-scale volunteer gathering at the Bethesda North Marriott on Monday, Jan. 18. However, we are planning a week-long service event around the holiday, incorporating a variety of virtual, at-home, and socially distanced volunteer activities suitable for all ages.

Watch our MLK Day of Service page for more details and signup information, coming soon.
Decluttering? Here Are Some Donation Ideas
If you've been cleaning out your closets, garage, or hidden corners of your home, you may be looking for ways to donate great items that you no longer need. The Volunteer Center can help!

Visit our online donation resource page for a quick guide to local organizations that accept particular types of donated goods--everything from books and clothing to garden supplies and athletic equipment. In addition, you'll find details on how to list furniture, office equipment, medical devices, craft supplies, and other items you may have available for donation in Hotlink, our weekly email sent to the 1,300-plus nonprofits and government agencies registered with the Volunteer Center.

Listing donations in Hotlink is simple. Just email the Volunteer Center with a complete description of your items (including condition), the city or town where they would need to be picked up from, and your preferred contact information (email or phone). Organizations then contact you directly to express interest, and you can work with any you choose. Note: Hotlink does not list donations of clothing, books, old-style tube (not flat-screen) televisions, or food. All items must be in at least good condition.
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--the first produced since the start of the pandemic and the first hosted by Sandy Smith, one of the Volunteer Center's extraordinary volunteers--features an interview with Linda Plummer of the Montgomery County NAACP, as well as footage from the Montgomery Serves Awards' presentation of the lifetime volunteer achievement awards to Robert Marques and Wolfgang Mergner.
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.

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