The meaning of life is to find your gift.
The purpose of life is to give it away.
--William Shakespeare
In This Issue
Gift Shopping? Choose Goods That Do Good!

Whether you love to shop or consider it a chore, you'll appreciate the many resources available for finding great gifts while also supporting nonprofits with roots in our community. Here are some options to consider:
  • blue-gift.jpg Altruette sells gold, silver, and enamel charms for bracelets and necklaces, with each designed to symbolize and raise funds for a specific nonprofit. Among the organizations you can support are the International Rescue Committee, Friends of the National Zoo, Special Olympics, and Toys for Tots.
  • The American Cancer Society offers several cookbooks that are popular gifts, including Kids' First Cookbook.
  • Find a huge variety of handmade jewelry and other accessories, home decor, dining ware, holiday ornaments, and more at Ten Thousand Villages, which provides fair income to artisans in developing countries.
  • The Red Cross Store offers emergency radios, water-activated flashlights, first aid kits, and books/CDs on everything from babysitting to pet first aid. 
  • Goodies from the Smithsonian Store include books, toys, models, art supplies, jewelry, clothing, and home decor featured at the various Smithsonian museum and National Zoo gift shops.
If you prefer to go green and make direct monetary donations, these organizations offer "alternative gifts"--donations that honor those on your gift list:
  • A Wider Circle offers options to "give hope," "give comfort," "give knowledge," and "give dignity" at a variety of donation levels that support families and individuals moving out of poverty.
  • Community Ministries of Rockville's alternative giving allows you to support its elderly ministries, emergency assistance program, language outreach efforts, health clinic, and more in the name of your gift recipient. 
  • Give your friends and family symbolic gifts like "puppy love," horse or donkey dental care, or a kitty spa day from Best Friends Animal Society. While you're there, you can also check out the organization's online gift store.  
  • The International Rescue Committee's alternative gift options include mosquito nets to prevent malaria, a pair of baby goats to provide nourishment and a sustainable source of income for a family in Africa, and an emergency classroom in a refugee center.
  • You can make targeted gift donations to 378 different nonprofit organizations in the region (including 125 that serve Montgomery County) through the Greater Washington Catalogue for Philanthropy, which features a nine-question quiz designed to help you choose your gift recipient's "charity soulmate." 
Save the Date
MLK Day of Service Coming Up Jan. 16

Plan to make Monday, Jan. 16--Martin Luther King Jr. Day--a day ON, not a day off! Join thousands of other local residents in honoring Dr. King's life and teachings by taking part in Montgomery County's MLK Day of Service 2017.

This annual event, organized by the Montgomery County Volunteer Center, will feature a wide variety of family-friendly service projects at locations across the county. The largest coordinated site, at the Bethesda North Marriott Conference Center, will include a volunteer fair as well as service projects, running 1-3 pm that day. (Please be aware there will not be parking available on site at the Marriott, but you can park for free at the White Flint Metro station lot across the street.) 

Planned projects include packaging food for the hungry, creating blankets for hospice, and cutting patterns to create shoes for children in Uganda.  Most, if not all, will be pre-approved for Student Service Learning hours. 

Mark your calendar now and plan to participate! Get more details or sign up here.
Family Services Inc.
Volunteers Help One Nonprofit Assist Thousands of Vulnerable Residents

Family Services Inc Thanksgiving
Volunteers help prepare a Thanksgiving lunch for FSI clients

Walk into any Family Services Inc. office and you're greeted by a huge sign that welcomes you in more than 25 different languages--a symbol of the wide scope of this nonprofit's efforts. FSI operates 36 programs that meet the needs of our region's culturally diverse and evolving communities, providing healthy child development assistance, family support services, community education, behavioral health programs, victim and domestic violence services, and crisis intervention and advocacy.

Founded in 1908 and a part of the Sheppard Pratt Health System, FSI serves more than 25,000 of the most vulnerable residents of Montgomery and Prince George's counties in its mission to promote the resilience, recovery, and independence of individuals and families across the lifespan.

Volunteer efforts enable FSI staff to more effectively provide services and help FSI clients get the most out of the programs they participate in. Given the broad range of FSI programs, it's no surprise that volunteer opportunities also run the gamut. For example, volunteers are regularly needed to provide administrative and childcare support, adult education assistance, youth tutoring/mentoring, and food service--to name just a few. At FSI's Upscale Resale Thrift Shop, volunteers help sort, display, and market donated treasures. And volunteer groups are welcome to prepare/serve meals, organize an FSI wish-list drive, spruce up a playground, or paint a classroom. In fact, the FSI volunteer coordinator welcomes the opportunity to brainstorm creative and rewarding ways individuals and groups can help!

Family Services Inc. is gearing up for the December holidays with a number of volunteer opportunities--such as serving holiday meals, packaging donated food/gifts, and wrapping presents. If all goes as planned, these activities will follow in the success of FSI's recent Thanksgiving lunch for 75 people at Montgomery Station, where 28 volunteers helped prepare the turkeys for roasting, cook all the side dishes, serve the meal, and clean up afterward. As one volunteer exclaimed, "Together we can do so much more!"

To learn how you can help FSI do so much more, visit the organization's website, email Mary Murphy, or call 301-840-3183.
Help Make the Holidays Bright

Looking for ways to give back to the community during the winter holiday season? You'll find lots of information about ways to volunteer or help with donation requests on our website.

Click here to see current holiday-related needs, and b e sure to check back frequently as additional opportunities are posted regularly.   Currently posted projects include sorting toy donations, selling Christmas trees, helping at holiday parties for the elderly or disabled, and donating clothes, toys, gift cards, and food for the holidays.  In addition, if you want to volunteer on Christmas day, you can sign up for one of the projects organized by the DC Jewish Community Center
End the Year as a Volunteer!
Bid farewell to 2016 by signing up to serve one of the many nonprofits and government agencies seeking volunteers. Here are just a few of the opportunities listed on the Volunteer Center's website. Check our calendar for more date-specific opportunities and our newest listings for those posted most recently. Or use the red box on our home page or at the top of this email to search for more opportunities. 
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T hese opportunities are pre-approved to provide MCPS Student Service Learning (SSL) hours. Others may be eligible for SSL hours. 
Visit  the MCPS SSL website to learn more.  

Run for Strength Volunteers: Sunday, Dec. 4, shifts available between 7:30 am and 12 noon, Wheaton. Set up the course, check in participants, work the water stations, and help at the finish line/medals for the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition's 5K run and 1 mile walk fundraising event. Email Kelsey Fisher or call 202-529-2991.

SSL Icon Dinner Providers: Wednesday, Dec. 7, 6-8 pm, Rockville. Help make and serve dinner for residents of the Wilkins Avenue Women's Assessment Center. KindWorks volunteers also help with cleanup, converse with the residents while they eat, and bring provisions for breakfast for the following morning. Email Deb Lang or call 301-792-3708.

SSL Icon Super Social Saturday Mentors: Saturday, Dec. 17, 4:30-7 pm, Germantown. Socialize with adult actors with intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, and Autism spectrum disorders at ArtStream's inclusive party class. Email Leah Hunt or call 301-565-4657.

Tax-Aide Schedulers: Help low-to-moderate income county residents (especially seniors) make appointments to have their federal and state income taxes prepared free of charge through the RSVP/AARP Tax-Aide Program. Volunteers will answer phones at an office in Gaithersburg and use an electronic scheduling system. Training provided. Additional opportunities for volunteer tax counselors and client greeters. Email Gretchen Zekiel or call 240-777-2610.

Volunteer Drivers: Provide the "gift of a lift" to seniors in your community who no longer drive. The Jewish Council for the Aging supports neighborhood "villages" (which help seniors age in their own homes) with the VillageRides program in Bannockburn Neighbors Assisting Neighbors, Burning Tree Village,  Gaithersburg HELP, Olney Home for Life, Potomac Community Village, Silver Spring Village, Villages of Kensington, and Village of Takoma Park. Drivers can view and accept ride requests online. Email Sara Fought or contact the villages directly.

SSL IconBasketball Score Table Operators: Run the score clock and book for MADE Sports Unlimited's youth basketball league games played in Damascus, Gaithersburg, Poolesville, Germantown, Rockville, and Silver Spring. Training provided. Email Tori Moten or call 301-966-2335.

Truancy Prevention Mentors, Tutors, and Site Coordinators: Work with middle school students throughout the county for 10 weekly school-day sessions designed to help adolescents develop confidence and a positive attitude toward learning. The Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office Truancy Prevention Program has succeeded in reducing unexcused absences by 65 percent among seven out of 10 students in the program. Minimum volunteer age: 17. References and background check required. Email Yasmine Eleazar or call 240-777-7501.

SSL Icon Meal Servers: Set up tables, prepare food, and/or serve breakfast or lunch to vulnerable members of our community at Shepherd's Table's new location in Silver Spring. Volunteers are needed mornings and afternoons, Mondays through Fridays, beginning Dec. 16. Minimum age: 16 (or 14 if accompanied by an adult). Email Ashley Wagstaff or call 301-585-6463 x9.

SSL Icon Sports Equipment Sorters: Sort through and inventory soccer balls, baseball bats, cleats, ice skates, and other items donated to Leveling the Playing Field in Silver Spring so equipment can then be passed along to schools and youth/after-school programs serving low-income students. Email Maitlyn Healy or call 301-844-5622.

SSL Icon EMTs, Firefighters, and Paramedics: Join the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association as standby emergency worker or, for those age 16-18, as a junior member at volunteer stations throughout the county. Volunteers must be physically fit and ready to undergo demanding physical activity in stressful environments. Training provided. Email Rick Tappan or call 240-543-9454.
When Kids Volunteer, Toys for Tots Benefits

Your volunteer efforts can spread extra joy this season. Toy manufacturing giant Hasbro has teamed up with Generation On, a global youth service program, to encourage young people to volunteer and share their stories of service as part of the Joy Maker Challenge

For every child or teen who reports his or her volunteer service on the Joy Maker Challenge website before Friday, Dec. 23, Hasbro will donate a toy or game to Toys for Tots--up to $1 million worth. In addition, those who share their volunteer stories will be entered to win volunteer project grants.

Looking for inspiration for a volunteer project to take on? Pick one of the volunteer opportunities listed in this newsletter or visit the Volunteer Center website to search by keyword, location, and/or date. Or check out the Joy Maker Challenge page to find additional project ideas. 
Service Unites Us

In the wake of last month's historic election, many are looking for ways to come together, to tackle tough challenges, and to find healing by helping others. Enter Service Unites, an online platform and campaign that asks Americans to pledge to volunteer. Spearheaded by Points of Light, the effort aims to tap into the potential of individuals to spark change and create solutions to the issues facing our communities. Sign on here and share your stories of service via social media using #ServiceUnites.
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 featured video is an encore presentation on the RSVP/AARP Tax-Aide Program and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program
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 these activities. 

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Montgomery County Volunteer Center