Digging into melons

For the past decade or so, Volunteers of America, Channel 9 (KUSA), FedEx and Walmart have teamed up to bring the Metro area and surrounding counties school supplies. The supply drive usually lasts the entire month of August, and Walmart allows collection barrels in their stores. At the end of the month, the supplies are sorted and delivered to 15 school districts for teachers to use in their classroom. We determine the need by how many students in each district are on the free and reduced lunch program. This way, a box of crayons may be shared by many students, rather than broken and lost under a child’s bed and never making it to the classroom.

This year, ARC Thrift Stores and CROCS jumped in to help low-income families with back-to-school clothing and shoes. We decided to have a giveaway September 13 and 14 at the Volunteers of America Mission, where families could shop for up to one hour. In order to make this manageable, we printed off vouchers and scheduled families to come at a specific hour to shop. As long as they show up during their scheduled time, they may fill a large bag with clothes.

There is, however, a catch. ARC is generous enough to offer us the clothes. They pulled the clothes from their stores and filled giant boxes, called melons, full of kids clothes. But, the clothes have to be sorted and all of the price tags removed before they can be shipped to the Mission for shopping day. So today, for seven hours, Volunteers of America and ARC staff and volunteers dug into the melons and started sorting. Today was sorting day one, and we got about halfway done. This is clearly a monumental job.

Sorting clothing in a hot warehouse is interesting. People make small talk. Most people ave given up their day off work or vacation time to come sort clothes. It makes them feel good, to know that they are giving back. Some are there because they feel obligated. But whatever the reason, each and every person is excited to give these clothes to a child in need. A little girl who will be delighted to find new back to school outfit. A little boy who finds a Brocos shirt. Its that thought that keeps people in an un-air conditioned warehouse for hours, digging into melons full of used clothes. Because its going to make one child smile. And that’s all that matters.

-Jordan Sanders, Volunteers of America, Colorado Branch


Hello world!

Today is the day that Volunteers of America finally jumped head first into blogging. Since joining the blogging world a few minutes ago, I’ve connected with 19 other bloggers, discovered that there is a PR seminar this weekend and accidentally posted all of VOA’s blog posts to my personal Facebook page, not the VOA page as intended. Oh well. As you can tell I am reluctantly joining the blogging world. In college I wrote an entire thesis on why blogging was the new form of yellow journalism. And yet, here I am. Blogging. Because Volunteers of America is so awesome that I need to reach as many people as I can. It’s as if I have a secret that needs to get out and the more quickly I tell the world, the better everyone else will be.

I work for Volunteers of America Colorado Branch. We are one affiliate of a national organization dedicated to helping the nation’s most vulnerable. Each affiliate is focused on the needs of its community. We have no strict programs that are nation wide, but we do have similar programs if the community dictates a need for them. It’s the beauty and the bane of the organization. It’s beautiful because its flexible; each community is different, thus each VOA branch is different. It’s the bane of our existence because how do you explain an organization that could potentially do everything? For those new to our organization, it’s a little overwhelming.

In Colorado, VOA has 32 different human service programs, from Meals on Wheels to domestic violence shelters, veterans rehabilitation programs to Head Start Early Learning Centers. We deliver 2,300 meals to home bound seniors a day, and that doesn’t include frozen meals and emergency boxes. We make small adjustments to seniors’ homes to keep them out of long-term care facilities. We run a Family Motel for those in emergency situations or in times of transition. We do as much as we can to help those in need.

Why do we do it? Because everyone needs a hug. Everyone needs support and love. Last year, we used 17,000 volunteers to reach as many people in need as we could. All of those volunteers can tell you that what they got back from volunteering is ten times more than what they gave. At Volunteers of America Colorado Branch, We Feed, We Shelter, We Support, We Care.
Welcome to our blog. I hope to share with you stories of life, and what it means to give back.

Jordan Sanders

Communications Specialist

Volunteers of America Colorado Branch