Hooked on Volunteering

Some of my best memories from college are the volunteer projects I got to take part in. On a whim my freshman year at the University of California-Santa Cruz, I went to a meeting for a group called PRAXIS, which got students involved in service projects. Within a couple of weeks, I was painting a soup kitchen one Saturday morning with a group of 20 other students. We then got to help prepare and serve the meals in a bright, freshly painted space. I was hooked.

Volunteering Abroad

I took on a leadership role in PRAXIS, and the next year planned the first alternative spring break trip for my school, where 60 students caravanned down to Tecate, Mexico, and spent a week building homes, a community center, and doing other renovation projects.

The week I spent in Tecate, far removed from anything I knew, changed me for the better and reminded me how impactful a small group of people dedicated to change can be. I continue my volunteer work today, and am grateful to all I have learned throughout my experiences.

Holidays Highlight the Need for Food

The onset of the holiday season is a wonderful opportunity to pause and give thanks. Yet for some members of our community, the turn of the seasons brings the need for food to feed their families front and center, as other living expenses like heat and clothing increase.

Food Banks Fill the Gap

Cassie Rosch, volunteer coordinator at the Food Bank for Larimer County, shared with me that the need for emergency food rose 30 percent in 2010, and continues to be on the rise. The Food Bank for Larimer County provides almost 70,000 meals to low-income children per year, and serves about 13,000 people per month. Any person living at 185 percent of the poverty guidelines qualifies to receive food assistance. With proof of residency (as available) in Larimer County, people can receive food at sites in Fort Collins or Loveland.

Their biggest need? Protein-heavy foods like peanut butter and canned tuna. Money is a huge help as well, with every $1 that is donated, people in Larimer County are provided with 4 nutritious meals.

If you are interested in volunteering for this great organization, you first need to fill out the Volunteer Questionnaire. You can also email Cassie with any questions you may have.

Can You Help?

Food Bank for Larimer County is one of many local organizations that helps fight hunger in our area, and a small donation goes a long way. The need in our Front Range communities is continuing to grow, and a number of wonderful agencies and organizations need help throughout the year, but especially in the winter months.

With even a $3 donation, you could provide three nutritious meals to a family of four who desperately needs them. Here is a list of food banks looking for donations and volunteers or see other organizations and agencies that help fight hunger throughout the state of Colorado.

Where do you volunteer and help others in need?

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Colleen Toomey was a career counselor in the Career Success Center at Front Range Community College, Westminster Campus. She can often be found exploring and getting lost in the Colorado outdoors and cheering for her hometown San Francisco Giants.

6 Responses to “Hooked on Volunteering”

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November 10, 2011 at 8:26 am, Angelica said:

PTK’s Adopt-A-Family at Boulder County Campus!

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November 11, 2011 at 11:54 am, John Feeley said:

Yes, Angelica, that’s a good example. For people who don’t know, PTK stands for Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for community colleges. Front Range has active chapters on all its campuses.

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November 16, 2011 at 1:43 pm, Greg Brown said:

I volunteer and serve on the Board for Boulder County AIDS Project. BCAP has services in 4 counties. They help people living with HIV or AIDS with care and have HIV prevention programs.
World AIDS Day is Dec 1st.

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November 25, 2011 at 3:00 pm, Colleen Toomey said:

Thanks, Greg! BCAP is part of the larger Colorado AIDS Project, or CAP, which is doing phenomenal work across the state. Here is more information on CAP: http://www.coloradoaidsproject.org/

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November 22, 2011 at 3:23 pm, lanisha walker said:

I like the adopt a family program, but i thought it was kind of for the christmas holiday because it is i would like to know how to sign up for that. thanks.

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January 17, 2012 at 10:34 pm, Cassie Rosch said:

What a great piece, Colleen! Thanks for including the Food Bank!