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Spending Saturday at the Mall, Volunteering

When Greater Twin Cities United Way was looking for a big way to spread the word about volunteering, the organization picked a Minnesota landmark where lots of people go: the Mall of America. On Valentine’s Day 2015, United Way was one of eight nonprofit organizations offering “speed volunteering” activities during the 10th annual HandsOn Twin Cities Volunteer Expo, which included more than 80 nonprofits gathered at the Mall of America promoting their work.

It was a spontaneous decision for most of the 200 people who volunteered with United Way that day. They had come to shop and decided to give as well as get by participating in United Way’s volunteer project: assembling Comfort Care Kits for the MVNA (formerly known as the Minnesota Visiting Nurse Association). Visiting nurses serve a variety of low-income clients in their home, such as new moms with infants, people temporarily incapacitated by life events, and the sick and elderly nearing the end of life.

The Comfort Care Kits included a Depend® product, hand sanitizer, wipes, trash bags, and vinyl gloves in a reusable tote. Volunteers who performed the simple act of assembling kits will help about 400 patients of MVNA and their families and caregivers. All told, the kits will benefit 1,200 people, plus the 100 visiting nurse staff who will benefit from having these kits available to make their jobs easier.

Thanks to a generous grant from Depend®, United Way was able to offer the volunteers a meaningful project and provide the opportunity to talk with many others at the mall that day about how volunteering is part of active, healthy and independent living throughout an individual’s life. Greater Twin Cities United Way is one of 10 United Ways selected to partner with Depend® for volunteer projects, including United Way Fox Cities and United Way of Peel Region.

Greater Twin Cities United Way and the other nonprofits knew how “to meet people where they are” on a Saturday – at the mall – and made it so easy to get involved in volunteering. It is easy for you, too, to find ongoing volunteer opportunities or sign up to receive information about special volunteer events. Just contact the United Way in your area, and turn a simple act on a Saturday into a big contribution to your community.