Little by little,
a little becomes a lot.
--Tanzanian proverb
In This Issue
Give Gifts That Do Good
This holiday season, skip the wrapping paper and the mall, and consider presenting your friends and family with "alternative gifts" instead. These typically take the form of monetary donations to a charity in the name of your gift recipients, but can also include volunteering in honor of your loved ones. Either way, they can be the most meaningful way to tell people you care.

Finding volunteer opportunities with an organization that is relevant to your friends and family is just a few clicks away. Visit the Volunteer Center's online database of organizations and search by cause--everything from animal welfare to health to arts & culture--to find volunteer needs with agencies dedicated to the issues you and your gift recipients care about. You can also search by keyword or organization name if you have something specific in mind. In addition, for more ideas, use the interest or keyword search to sort through the nearly 1,000 volunteer opportunities listed online.

Once you complete your service, you can even print 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, which encourages people to make sustainable gift choices to reduce waste, support local businesses, and encourage volunteerism during the holiday season.

To honor those on your gift list with a financial contribution to a nonprofit, check out the list of online donation pages for locally based organizations that offer a simple way to designate your alternative gift recipients (and typically send them a card or letter acknowledging the gift contribution).
Sign Up Today! 
MLK Day of Service is Just Around the Corner
Save the date and sign up today to make Monday, Jan. 15--the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday--a day ON, not a day off! Join thousands of other residents in honoring Dr. King's life and teachings by taking part in Montgomery County's MLK Day of Service 2018. 

This annual event will feature a wide variety of coordinated family-friendly service projects at three locations: 9-11 am in Gaithersburg, 10 am-12 noon in Silver Spring, and 1-3 pm in North Bethesda, which is the largest site and features a volunteer fair as well as projects. Participants will have the chance to help with everything from packing snow day boxes for Meals on Wheels to creating costumes for kids in hospitals.

Visit the Volunteer Center's MLK Day of Service page for more details or to sign up to volunteer. And i f you know of a local nonprofit that would like to host a service project or be part of the volunteer fair, there is still space available at the North Bethesda site. Email Teresa Pipia for more information.
Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless
Volunteers Serve County's Most Vulnerable
MCCH volunteers

As part of its aim to ensure that homelessness in Montgomery County is rare, brief, and nonrecurring, the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless (MCCH) provides permanent supportive housing and emergency shelter for those in need (including the only year-round men's emergency shelter in the county). Founded in 1990 and now serving about 1,600 men, women, and children annually, MCCH was a driving force in ending veteran homelessness in Montgomery County last year, and is now progressing toward a goal of ending chronic homelessness throughout the county by March 2018.

Volunteering is essential to the organization's pursuit of this bold vision, and there are many way for groups and individuals to pitch in.  Currently MCCH is seeking help with its holiday giving program ; volunteers are needed to donate specific gifts for MCCH's clients and to wrap gifts at the agency's administrative office in Rockville. MCCH is also seeking donations of move-in kits  filled with household essentials for individuals and families that are moving into permanent homes.

At the MCCH men's emergency shelter in Rockville, volunteers--individuals, families, groups, and congregations--prepare, deliver, and serve every single meal every single day for up to 200 clients (and students can earn preapproved student service learning hours for this service). In addition, the shelter seeks employment support volunteers to assist clients with anything from developing computer skills to crafting a resume to preparing for job interviews.

MCCH volunteers are fueled by their passion for helping others. Beyond providing support for our most vulnerable neighbors, volunteers benefit from connecting with staff members within the organization.  Elena, a weekly volunteer, is inspired by their dedication: "I love the staff here and how hard they work and how committed they are to ending homelessness. It makes me feel like what I'm doing here--no matter how small--is part of something way bigger."

To learn more about MCCH and ways to volunteer, email Lynn Rose for more information or visit
Holiday Volunteers Needed
If you are looking for ways to give back to the community during the winter holiday season, check out ways to volunteer or help with donation requests on the Volunteer Center's online holiday help page. Current needs include gift wrappers, Christmas goody bag creators, and toy drive donors. Be sure to check back frequently as additional opportunities are posted regularly.

Holiday volunteer shifts tend to fill quickly, but there are always lots of ways to serve year-round. Find them on the Volunteer Center website, where you can search for volunteer needs based on location, keyword, interest area, and more.
Wrap Up 2017 With Volunteer Service
Before you make your resolutions for next year, put your do-right spirit to good use as an end-of-year volunteer for one or more of the many opportunities available in our area. Here are just a few of the hundreds of volunteer positions listed on the Volunteer Center's website. Check our calendar for more date-specific opportunities or use the search box at the top of this email  or the top of our home page to search for more ways to serve. 
SSL preapproved
These opportunities are preapproved to provide MCPS 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.
(in addition to the varied holiday needs)

SSL preapproved SET CONSTRUCTION CREW: Saturdays, Dec. 9 and 16, 10 am-1 pm, Rockville. Hone your carpentry skills or learn new ones from experienced builders working on construction of the set for "The Underpants" at Rockville Little Theatre. No previous experience necessary. Minimum age: 16. Email Dean Fiala.

SSL preapproved ATHLETIC ACTIVITIES MENTORS: Sunday, Dec. 10, 11:30 am-3 pm, North Bethesda. Work one-on-one for 90 minutes with a teen with disabilities on fun indoor athletic activities--everything from kicking a soccer ball to hula hooping. Sponsored by Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN) of Greater DC. Required orientation for new volunteers begins at 11:30 am. Minimum age: 15. Email Beth Wenger or call 301-770-3200.

BINGO PARTY VOLUNTEERS: Wednesday, Dec. 13, 1:15-2:45 pm, Silver Spring. Help throw a monthly bingo party sponsored by KindWorks for people receiving emergency services at a day shelter. Provide and set up snacks, call numbers, and share in clients' excitement when they win! Email Deb Lang or call 301-792-3708.

SSL preapproved NATURE CENTER NEW YEAR HELPERS: Friday, Dec. 29, 10:30 am-12 noon, Rockville. Assist Montgomery Parks with its craft-focused Rocking New Year's "Eve" family event at Meadowside Nature Center. Minimum age: 14. Email Lynn Vismara or call 301-495-2504. 

LIGHTING & SET DESIGN MENTORS: Guide a small group of third graders in designing and constructing lights and a set for an original opera students are developing at Stedwick Elementary School in Montgomery Village. Volunteers needed Wednesdays, 9:45-11:45 am, Jan. 3-May 4. Email Mary Ruth McGinn or call 301-335-3393.

SSL preapproved LIVING HISTORY INTERPRETERS: Guide visitors and students through Button Farm Living History Center, a 40-acre facility in Germantown that depicts 19th Century slave plantation life. Volunteers should have an interest in Maryland, African American, or Underground Railroad history. Minimum age: 16. Email Anthony Cohen or call 202-903-4140.

BEREAVEMENT FACILITATORS: Help lead one of Hospice Caring's support groups for adults who are grieving the death of a loved one, held in Gaithersburg on various days of the week. Volunteers are also needed to lead bereavement groups for children. Volunteer training provided; background check required. Email Catherine Stahl or call 301-869-4673.

SSL preapproved RESCUE HORSE CARETAKERS: Assist with feeding, grooming, and caring for horses at Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine. Volunteers as young as 5 are welcome every day of the year, and can also help with barn chores, general farm maintenance, and administrative tasks. Email Carrie Alden or call 301-854-5037. 

SSL preapproved HOSPITAL INFORMATION DESK RECEPTIONISTS: Greet visitors, direct them to patient rooms, answer phones, and deliver mail and flowers at Medstar Montgomery Medical Center in Olney.  Minimum age: 16. Email volunteer services, apply online, or call 301-774-8629.

SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM BOARD MEMBERS: Help the Bernie Scholarship Awards Program provide financial assistance for college and vocational training to low- and moderate-income individuals living in subsidized housing in our county. Volunteer board and advisory group members meet once a month, September to June, and those with fundraising and marketing skills are particularly needed. Email Jessica Doran or call 301-518-7710.
Comcast Volunteer Video

New Video Highlights Volunteering in Montgomery County
Comcast Creative has released a short video offering an inspiring glimpse of volunteerism in Montgomery County, including footage and interviews with local volunteers, nonprofit leaders, and the Volunteer Center's own Molly Callaway. If you volunteer or care about service in this county, you'll love this media piece!
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 contribute positively to our community. This month's program features representatives from Senior Connection, which operates programs and services dedicated to improving the quality of life for seniors. Watch it online here, beginning Dec. 4 .
Follow Us on Social Media and Get the Latest!
Learn about new and last-minute service opportunities, volunteer news, and information to inspire on the Montgomery County Volunteer Center Facebook page. If you haven't already done so, Like us to get the latest information in your Facebook feed. 

You can also stay connected through these links:
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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 these activities.

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Montgomery County Volunteer Center