Throughout the month of October, Shore volunteers of every age participated in United in Service
, a project in partnership with United Way of Massachusetts Bay
to benefit a dozen local organizations and assist hundreds of families and individuals in need.
"Together," said Shore parent and United in Service co-organizer Julee Haley, "some 200-plus students, parents, teachers, and staff donated more than 600 volunteer hours to local non-profits, which made a huge difference for each and every one of these great organizations. They depend on volunteers to be able to provide essential services and support for their clients in need."
Haley and co-organizer Abby Albrecht said that Shore volunteers spent weekend days throughout October doing everything from creating get-well cards for Beverly Hospital patients to preparing and serving meals for clients at the Open Door in Gloucester. "With a month's worth of projects to join in," said Albrecht, "the final numbers were incredible."
Among the highlights: United in Service volunteers collected 830 pounds of Thanksgiving food items for Beverly Bootstraps; made 400 tags for Shore's Giving Tree, each of which will provide holiday gifts for a local child in need; planted 250 flower bulbs to beautify Plummer Home in Salem; created 184 cards for Beverly Hospital patients; packaged 150 "Plant Pal" kits for early education centers and afterschool programs; dug 100 pounds of potatoes at the Food Project's Wenham farm; worked with Family Promise to prepare 98 meals for families experiencing homelessness; prepared and served 62 meals to 39 hungry clients at the Open Door; and prepped 7 raised bed gardens for winter with Backyard Growers at Gloucester public schools.
"We are so proud we're able to work with Shore to help organizations in our region," said Sarah Bartley, Senior Director of Community Impact with the United Way. "The families who joined together for United in Service should feel great about what they accomplished. Shore Country Day School and United Way’s partnership has created something special: It’s the perfect way for families to impact their local community, to teach their children about the importance of service, and to help others together."
Beyond this one month of service, Julee Haley looked forward to the accomplishment of an even bigger goal. "Ideally, we'd like to leave Shore families thinking about community service all year long."
The United Way's Sarah Bartley had the same goal in mind. "I met many Shore parents who genuinely want their
children to keep having positive experiences helping others; they want them to discover early that their skills, creativity, and voices are valuable in the effort to help people in need."
But, said Bartley, sometimes parents need a little help getting started. "The United Way is a great source for ideas, and there are a few things to keep in mind when looking for ways the whole family can serve together."
- First, look for opportunities where youth is an asset, not a barrier. "Many service opportunities are designed for kids to bring their unique brand of enthusiasm and creativity to projects like decorating cards or running food drives," Bartley explained. Here are some specific ideas by age.
- Second, follow your children's interests. Bartley recommended, "For young children, begin by showing them how their interests can be used to help other people. Then, as they get older, ask them how they’d like to put their blossoming interests to work helping others."
- Look for short, repetitive activities to increase children's comfort level over time. "At Shore," said Bartley, "we saw very young children quickly turn into greeting card-making pros."
- And finally, let the organization know ahead if you are bringing a child to a volunteer activity geared toward adults, and ask how they might suggest including your child. "Not all service opportunities are appropriate for children, but it's surprising how many ways can be found for them to contribute and feel empowered," Bartley said.
"Volunteering together prepares children to live not just successful lives, but rich, meaningful lives contributing to the wellbeing of others," said Julee Haley. "Shore and United Way have been honored to present United in Service as an important step in helping children learn to love giving."
United Way is a local nonprofit that harnesses the power of people working together to create lasting change. United Way focuses on two foundations of better lives: educational success and family financial opportunity. (More: What is United Way?) United Way mobilizes thousands of volunteers through a variety of industry groups and leadership opportunities across Eastern Massachusetts. These groups drive innovative and effective solutions on behalf of people in need.