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Volunteers and Valentines

United Way Fox Cities recently combined volunteers and valentines to promote literacy among children and healthy eating for families at the Valentine’s Family Festival. The free, fun, family-oriented event is organized annually by United Way Fox Cities Emerging Leaders, a group of young adult volunteers committed to making a difference in the Menasha, Wisconsin area.

This year, thanks to a grant from Depend® (a brand of Kimberly-Clark), each of the 600 children attending the festival received a literacy kit, and the family also received prepackaged ingredients and cooking instructions to prepare a healthy, tasty soup at home. Depend® supported the event as part of its national initiative to promote active, healthy and independent living throughout an individual’s life with a focus on volunteering. United Way Fox Cities is one of 10 United Ways selected to partner with Depend®.

Leading up to the festival, about 80 volunteers – some of them retirees and part of the local  RSVP program -- created 700 literacy kits by placing labels in children’s books and packing the books, crayons, notepads and bookmarks in bags. Other volunteers measured and packed the soup ingredients in take-home bags.

The festival was held on a popular bus route to provide easy access. The morning was filled with activities including cookie decorating, carnival games, arts and crafts (including making valentines) and a photo booth. Each family also enjoyed a nice lunch, and took home the literacy and healthy meal kits and other items that promote good health, including toothbrushes.

As the Emerging Leaders and the other volunteers can attest, volunteering makes you feel good, both mentally and physically. Whether you volunteer through work, school or in your free time, there’s no doubt you’ll do some good – for your community, for families and individuals, and for yourself.