With the winter holidays just around the corner many of us are already making gift lists, shopping, planning parties and making travel arrangements to be with family. This is also the time of year when many families could use a little extra help with their holiday celebrations.
At KTD! we've rounded up a (helping) handful of local resources where you and your family can get involved and make a difference this holiday season.
1. Help the Homeless: Catholic Social Services' Helping Holiday project collects funds for their community outreach projects like the Brother Francis Shelter and Clare House.
2. Feed the Hungry: The citywide Neighborhood GIFT Program, co-sponsored by the Foodbank of Alaska, needs volunteers to deliver meals to homebound individuals in the Anchorage area on Monday, Dec 19 and to do foodstamp outreach at 6 different locations on Tuesday, Dec 20.
3. Dress an Interviewing Teen: Covenant House Alaska has an immediate need for adult-sized, women and men's business attire. Donate your lightly-used professional clothing at their downtown Anchorage location.
4. Shop at a Non-Profit Bazaar: Congregation Beth Sholom is hosting the 4th Annual Mitzvah Mall where all the vendors are local not-for-profits and charities selling items from $5-$30. Sunday, December 4, 1-4pm.
5. Give a Gift/Wrap a Gift: AWAIC (Abused Women's Aid in Crisis) has many opportunities for holiday helping this year - donate gifts or gift cards that will go directly to the many women, teens and children that they help, or sign up as an individual or as a group to wrap these gifts.
6. Choose Your Own Charity: The United Way of Anchorage's 2011 Guide to Holiday Giving and Volunteering Opportunities (opens as a PDF) is a comprehensive catalog of ways that your family can help this season by donating items like clothes, food, toys, bus passes and even services.
7. Keep a Homeless Child Warm: The Children in Transition/Homeless program at the Anchorage School District has an immediate need for children's snowpants and snowboots to distribute to the kids in their program. Call their office to find out where to donate: 742-3833.
Write us with more ways to give back and we'll add them to this list.
I always pray some of the lessons AK Dad and I instill in our children are driven home effectively. Say thank you, we instruct. Be kind. Help someone else, for Pete’s sake. I always thought I’d do really well during the 1940‘s when World War II meant every neighborhood in the United States banded together for a powerful “take care of each other” mantra under the comforting blanket of “We Can Do It!” Perhaps we’ve returned to a socially responsible way of life, or perhaps my Gen X’er heart feels the need to look beyond my own personal needs. Whatever the reason, it’s National Volunteer Week, and people everywhere are gearing up for seven days (and hopefully a lifetime) of service to others and the community in which they live.
Volunteerism as a concept stretches beyond “offering oneself” in hundreds of thousands of ways. No longer limited to serving meals at homeless shelters or packaging items for holiday baskets, volunteerism has become big business, and including the whole family is a crucial part of the service equation.
In Alaska, outdoor service projects are as simple as the annual CityWide Cleanup, now in its 43rd year of making Anchorage beautiful, or as complicated as donating extensive amounts of time to such agencies as Chugach State Parks as a seasonal campground host. The tough part is deciding what project fits a family of diverse ages and stages.
AKontheGO supports family volunteerism with all its might; after all, Moi spent five years as a volunteer Crew Leader for the now enormously-popular Washington Trails Association, and led umpteen fabulous “volunteer vacations” into the wilds of Washington state. Fun? You betcha, especially when moms and dads would bring kids along. For a week we’d work side-by-side, brushing salmonberry, grubbing new trail tread, and getting gloriously dirty together. Helping and having a good time, what’s not to like about that?
Here at home, outdoor volunteerism is everywhere. We mentioned that all-important CityWide Cleanup, happening April 30-May 7. Kids and parents can grab a big orange bag or two, don some gloves and breakup boots, and spend a few hours or all day picking up leavings of other people. Have a contest to see who can collect the most, or give a prize to the family member who finds the weirdest (yet not dangerous) item of the day, and at the end, wash up and go out for ice cream.
Another excellent event with tremendous family volunteerism potential is National Trails Day, held this year on Saturday, June 4. AK Fam usually heads over to the Campbell Creek Science Center off Elmore Road for a morning of planting, cleaning, pruning and general sprucing up of the Center and surrounding trails, followed by a pizza lunch and way-cool door prizes courtesy of REI. An institutional event among outdoor user groups, Trails Day was started in 1993 by the American Hiking Society and has grown to include just about every outdoor agency in the country. Suited for even the tiniest grubber, Trails Day at CCSC means careful planning by staff to ensure the best possible volunteer experience, with gear, safety talks, and tons of fun. Contact the Science Center for information about National Trails Day and your family’s participation at 267-1247.
Live in south Anchorage and want to contribute to your neighborhood parks? A unique partnership has been developed between Trinity church and Huffman Elementary to clean up little-but-lovely Huffman Community Park. Awarded a grant by the Anchorage Park Foundation to clean up and revitalize this oft-used but under-maintained park, Huffman Elementary and Trinity have big plans for two separate occasions. The first, scheduled for Friday, April 29 from 3:30-8 p.m. will be a general clean-up of the park. The second, slated for Saturday, July 30, will involve tearing down old exercise equipment and resurfacing the trail. Kids and parents are welcome to join the fun, meet new people, and help their community park become a safer place to play. Contact Megan Holliday for more information.
Give back, get outside, and feel good about it. That’s volunteerism, and that’s what we do. Join us.
Global Youth Service Day is actually three days this year - April 15-17 - it's been around for a couple of decades now. So how did it get started and what are some of the projects local Alaska kids are working on?
Contributor Jessica Cochran has more on Global Youth Service Day, and she introduces us to a few of the cool Alaska kids who are working to make the state a better place. One of those kids is Sam Allred, a local boy who founded his own charity called Kindness for Kids - he makes pillows to comfort children in hospital who are suffering from chronic illnesses. Learn more about this awesome kid and donate to his project.
Volunteering can empower children and the whole family, and this week on Kids These Days! we're celebrating lending a hand, giving back and making a difference! On today's show we’ll learn about Kids Day and the group that puts it on, Anchorage’s Promise, and we’ll hear about ways that young people volunteer and engage in our world to help make it a better place.
IN-STUDIO GUESTS: In the studio with host Shana Sheehy are
• Debbie Bogart, the Executive Director of Anchorage’s Promise, a collaborative organization that helps local partners deliver services for young people.
• Heather Jack, the founder of The Volunteer Family, a nonprofit organization that helps families find volunteer opportunities, and of Future Philanthropists, which teaches youth about nonprofits and entrusts them to give away real money to those organizations.
• Nyla Riley, a local teen who serves on the Anchorage's Promise Youth Advisory Board and is busy organizing the Teen City Center Stage area at Kids Day.
DID YOU KNOW? It's National Volunteer Week! Check out our list of 6 Volunteering Websites to Inspire the Whole Family.
-Global Youth Service Day & Cool Alaskan Kids - KTD Contributor Jessica Cochran introduces us to Sam Allred, a local boy who founded his own charity called Kindness for Kids - he makes pillows to comfort children suffering from chronic illness. [Full story + pic]
- Power of One: Deacon Wassillie Gust - (or "Uppa" (Grandfather) Wally) is in his second year as a RuralCAP BIRCH Americorps volunteer in New Stuyahok where he gives 40-hours of his time each week to help improve his community by energizing the local youth to take positive action. [Full story + pix]
- Service Learning Requirement at Chugach School District - The Chugach School District which includes the areas of Whittier, Tatitlek and Chenaga Bay as well as a large extension school service throughout Alaska makes service-learning a graduation requirement for its students. [Full story + gallery]
- Teens Talk Giving Back - Teen reporter Aviva Hirsch brings another of her excellent and thoughtful dispatches from the halls of West Anchorage High School. This time teens talk about where they volunteer and why they do it.
Originally featured on the Kids & Volunteering show.
The Chugach School District which includes the areas of Whittier, Tatitlek and Chenaga Bay as well as a large extension school service throughout Alaska makes service-learning a graduation requirement for its students. Each year, no matter the grade level, every student must participate in a volunteering effort - like the one pictured below.
Head teacher at the Whittier Community School, Stephanie Burgoon shared these photos with us. She writes: "Each year, the Whittier Community School students and staff work together to clean up trash in the community and plant flowers in pots to distribute throughout the town."
In the clip below, Stephanie shares with producer, Sarah Gonzales, how her students - from Kindergarten to graduation - are making a difference in their small community, and also throughout the country!
IN OUR ONGOING Power of One series we recognize the work that one adult is doing to make a positive, inspiring or meaningful difference among the youth of his or her community. This week we travel to the village of New Stuyahok is on the banks of the Nushagak River about 50 miles northeast of Dillingham. Among its 500 residents is Wassillie Gust Senior who goes by a few names. He's Wally to those who can’t pronounce Wassillie, Deacon Wassillie Gust to the Orthodox Church in New Stuyahok, and he’s known to all the kids as Uppa Wally. Uppa means grandfather in Yup'ik.
Deacon Wassillie is in his second year as a RuralCAP BIRCH Americorps volunteer. This warm, charismatic man with an infectious smile gives 40-hours of his time each week to helping improve his community.
KTD Host Shana Sheehy spoke with him to learn more about how he's helping a local kids's group called Meterviit (eagle) with projects like building signs and birdhouses, while also inspiring them to take pride in their community.
This story originally featured on Show 28: Kids & Volunteering.
Did you know that it's National Volunteer Week? Kids and families are getting out into their communities to give back all this week and into the weekend. You can do something on your own like baking cookies for the fire station down the street or you can participate in a community-wide project through school or church.
If you need a little guidance and inspiration to get started check out tomorrow's show and in the meantime we've picked six websites that can help get you started:
1. Global Youth Service Day (GYSD.org) - Established in 1988, Global Youth Service Day is the largest service event in the world, and the only day of service dedicated to children and youth. GYSD is celebrated each year in over 100 countries. Check out their Project Map to find some really cool Alaska projects!
2. HandsOnNetwork.org - HandsOn Network inspires, equips and mobilizes people to take action that changes the world. This network, now the largest in the nation, is leading people from impulse to action, turning their ideas for change into impactful projects. Find local action centers or start your own!
4. TheVolunteerFamily.org & FuturePhilanthropists.org - The vision of these partner organizations is to empower today’s youth with the knowledge, skills, and motivation needed to become caring, thoughtful, and philanthropic adults. Hear from Heather Jack, founder of both these orgs tomorrow on Kids These Days! radio!
5. United Way Volunteer As a Family (LiveUnited.org) - Research shows that volunteering as a family: Helps families learn about social issues and provides a new perspective on the world; Provides positive role models and passes on family values to children; Provides new learning experiences and development of new skills for both children and adults; Provides quality time for the family to spend together; Increases interpersonal communication and the problem-solving abilities of family members; Helps youth decide what they want to do with their life. They are currently recruiting for 1,000,000 volunteer readers ages 13 and up! Sign up today.
6. CrossCulturalSolutions.org - Volunteering abroad in a CCS program can be life-changing for all who experience it, but perhaps this is even more true for families volunteering with young ones who are just starting to form their views of the world. They welcome the opportunity to help your children and teenagers experience other cultures and participate in meaningful volunteer work. Check out the Family Volunteering Abroad section and listen to a KTD! story about a local family's Voluntourism in Malawi!
A very informative clip about preparing for emergencies as a neighborhood. Knowing who has certain supplies and specific skills could be essential in the event of an emergency. Rick Calcote and Merry Carlson explain how getting to know your neighbors is useful for more than just borrowing sugar.
Also discussed - how to prepare in advance to be an emergency responder.
THE MOTTO OF the statewide organization, Alaska Community Services is "Helping Alaska's Seniors Help Alaska" and they do that in a variety of ways including through their Foster Grandparents Program. In the Southcentral region there are about 50 seniors who are foster grandparents and most of them spend 20-plus hours a week volunteering.
KTD Host Shana Sheehy spoke with foster grandparent Zandra Kinnie to learn about the difference she has been making in the lives of kids for the last 16 years.
This story was originally featured on Show 13: Grandparents These Days!
DISTRIBUTING SIX MILLION pounds of food annually, the Food Bank of Alaska located in Anchorage, is "the hub of the anti-hunger system" for the state, says Executive Director Susannah Morgan (at left). Local anti-hunger activist, Kokayi Nosakhere, also weighs in on the topic and tells about his By 2015: America campaign.
If you're interested in donating food to the Food Bank at any time of year, donations are accepted at the warehouse Monday-Friday from 9am-4pm, see a map here.
KTD Producer Sarah Gonzales learned about the ways that Alaskans can help feed other Alaskans this holiday season, and year-round.
This story was originally featured on Show 12: Nutrition.