The Children's Alliance

What Are You Waiting For? PDF Print Email
Tuesday, 07 February 2012 00:00

A common question and concern I hear is - I want to volunteer, but I don't know how to get started and I am not sure I have enough time. Getting started is the hardest part but there are a lot of ways to do it and some that require little extra time out of your schedule. I know this is cliche, but if we all just gave a little of our time, what a wonderful world this would be.

So if you are interested, I just might have a few ideas to get you started:

Boxtops - The Children's Alliance1. Start Small, but Start!

Almost all of our agencies participate in a program like the Together in Education Program through your VIC card at Harris Teeter. Did you know Harris Teeter allows you too hook up to 5 organizations? My VIC card is linked to my children’s school as well as non-profit group’s like, Bethlehem Center’s Head Start program (#5609). Last year Harris Teeter donated $297,000 through this program to local educational programs. All that is required from you is to go online and register your card at Harris Teeter and continue to grocery shop (which I spend half my life doing anyway). Harris Teeter is not the only grocery store that has a program like this.

Other things you can do: collect Campbell's soup labels, save tabs from your aluminum cans, save your Box Tops from participating products or donate your coke reward points. In a time of ever shrinking budget and growing needs every little donation can help. My son’s school just purchased playground balls, an easel, electric pencil sharpeners and fitness dice with our school’s label for education program points.

2.  Absolutely No Time?

In a busy world time is our most precious commodity. Become a regular donor. Think about planning your budget, if you didn’t have a regular idea of what was coming in, it would be real hard to plan how you would best spend your funds. Find a group that shares your passion and commit to consistently give. The Children’s Alliance is made up of over 40 local agencies that work daily to improve the lives of all children in the Charlotte/Mecklenburg area.

3. Be an Advocate. The longer I am at this job, the more I am amazed at how many people in Charlotte with HUGE hearts are completely unaware that there are SOO many children in ouradvocate - The  Children's Alliance VERY OWN Charlotte who are in need. One easy way to help agencies is to share their story. Companies pay millions each year for PR and marketing. Shockingly, local non-profits don’t have those budgets. Simply sharing with your neighbor opportunities that are available for them to be involved can make a difference.

Even more important is for our government reps – local, state and national knows what is most important to us. Writing, calling and rallying your representatives is a very important part of getting needed funds to the most critical places. Last year my children (and me) learned about our local government when we went to support the Bright Beginnings public Pre-K program at a County Commissioners meeting.

4.  Find Your Passion. There are many ways to volunteer using your talent and passion. Agencies have need for everything; people to do administrative work, to read stories, to donate professional services. I bet you can use your unique talent to bless others and surprise yourself in the joy it brings you. Organizations like Citizen’s in Schools are looking for community members to come teach middle school children about what they love. A group last year taught a class on robots! Programs like these expose kids who don’t always have the opportunities other kids might have and allows them an opportunity to plan and dream for a future. At the event I went to I met a 8th grader who was failing in school and through his involvement in Citizen School’s was now speaking at an event in front of over a hundred people.

 

mentor - The Children's Alliance5. Make it Routine. You can make an incredible impact on the life of a troubled child with just some consistent time with them. I interviewed a grandmother who shared with me the anguish that knowing her grandson had never met a positive man in his life. He would tell her when he grew up he wanted to get a gun to shoot all the men that hurt his mom and him. Fortunately for him his grandmother signed him up for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program and after a few months with his mentor, his dream is to become a guard and protect people.

Our local area is full of amazing organizations that fight everyday for the hearts of our local children. In Charlotte/Mecklenburg County there are over 40,000 children who live in poverty. A child who lives in poverty is at greater risk to fail at school and much higher chance of becoming a high school dropout. A high school dropout COST our community over $250,000 over their lifetime.

We have children in our community in need of a loving homes, who are hungry, whose family has only known generational poverty and maybe without compassion of a neighbor may never know any different. They are countless ways to share your blessings with our community, so now that you know how to get started, what are you waiting for?

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