United Way of Salt Lake plays a unique role in the community because we work with so many partners, from schools and afterschool programs, to health clinics and refugee resettlement agencies. In order to help children and families succeed, these partners need volunteers and in-kind donations to support the important work they do to. UWSL’s volunteer team does our best to fill these needs.
I receive dozens of calls and emails each month from members of the community who want to get involved with our work. A Boy Scout will call to host a donation drive, a college student group will ask for an ongoing project working with kids, or a group of adults from the community will ask about a one-time volunteer project such as Day of Action. This year, 102 community groups and individuals have filled out a volunteer project request form, and 76 individuals have expressed interest in mentoring students in our community schools. This provides the perfect opportunity to match these willing volunteers with community needs.
So what types of projects have these community members completed?
Earlier in the year, two girls at Sandy Elementary had asked their school counselor for blankets, one for their baby sister and one for themselves. Unfortunately, the school had no blankets to offer. A member of the staff let us know about this need, and we got to work.
Similarly, at Woodrow Wilson Elementary in South Salt Lake a family’s house had burned down, and the children asked their school counselor for shoes. The only shoes left on the shelf did not fit them. Again, a staff member let us know.
As I searched for a donor to fill these needs, a member of the Relief Society from Sandy Utah Granite View Stake contacted us to get involved. When I told her the stories above, she rallied her group to collect more than 100 new blankets and 100 pairs of new shoes for students in UWSL community schools. Now, these students can focus on learning at school.
This example is only one of many. This year, community members have also read to groups of students on Dr. Seuss Day, donated hundreds of art and hygiene kits, distributed food at the mobile food pantry, provided new clothes to children, helped high school seniors complete college applications, taught English classes to parents, and mentored hundreds of students.
Thank you, community volunteers, for being #SLChangemakers!