Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. 
When you volunteer, you vote about 
the kind of community you want to live in.
--Author Unknown
In This Issue
Explore Ways to Give This Holiday Season

With Thanksgiving and the winter holidays approaching, nonprofits and government agencies have begun recruiting volunteers to help with special holiday needs--everything from preparing festive meals for homeless individuals or donating money to buy turkeys for low-income families to helping with the Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade or posing as Santa Claus! Click here to see the latest list of holiday volunteer opportunities and holiday donation requests. And be sure to check back frequently as additional opportunities and needs are posted regularly.

Of course, organizations that serve the needy are generally looking for help throughout the year. Visit our website or use the red box above to search for keywords like "meals," "hunger," or "food," and you'll find plenty of opportunities to help provide meals at shelters and food banks year-round.
Community Food Rescue
Food Runners Help Feed More and Waste Less 

Community Food Rescue

Volunteers are the life-blood of Community Food Rescue (CFR), a program of Manna Food Center that rescues perfectly good, unsold food from grocers, caterers, farms, restaurants, hospitals, and schools and redirects it to food assistance organizations such as soup kitchens, pantries, and houses of worship. In fact, the program literally wouldn't exist without its corps of volunteer food runners, who pick up and deliver all of these food donations, seeing the process through from start to finish. 

"It's so rewarding to know that food isn't being wasted and I get to see a slice of our community that most people don't know exists," explains Bill Franz, a volunteer since CFR's inception in 2015. "I get to pick up food from a farm, or store, or restaurant and see their operations. Then I visit a food assistance organization and see their good work, including providing this food to their clients."

Besides addressing hunger, the CFR program has an environmental impact, filling bellies instead of the landfill. In Montgomery County, 23 percent (146,000 tons annually) of all solid waste is food waste, and the CFR network aims to reduce that quantity while helping the 70,000 county residents who don't know where their next meal will come from. 

CFR uses web-based software and a mobile app to alert volunteers to food run requests that are within the travel distance they have set up. Food runners can then decide which food runs they wish to claim. They can also sign up to make regular weekly runs between the same donor and recipient.

To become a food runner, a volunteer must be at least age 18 and have a vehicle and a good driving record. To ensure that food is handled and transported safely, CFR provides prospective volunteers with food safety guidelines, and then requires them to take and pass an online multiple choice quiz. (Those who don't pass the first time are encouraged to review the information and take the test again.) 
Elect to Volunteer!
Politics aside, take a stand this month by taking on a volunteer project with a cause or organization you support. Need some ideas? Here are just a few of the opportunities listed on the Volunteer Center's website. Check our calendar for more date-specific opportunities and our newest listings for those posted most recently. Or use the red box on our home page or at the top of this email to search for more opportunities. 
SSL Icon
These opportunities are pre-approved to provide MCPS Student Service Learning (SSL) hours. Others may be eligible for SSL hours. 
Visit  the MCPS SSL website to learn more. 

Financial Literacy Instructors: Wednesdays, Nov. 2-Dec. 7, Silver Spring. Lead Eastern Middle School students through a Junior Achievement-developed curriculum that uses games and activities to teach youth about budgeting, credit cards, debit cards and insurance in a fun way. Additional opportunities at Julius West Middle School in Rockville on Mondays, Nov. 14-Dec. 12, Kingsview Middle School in Germantown on Tuesdays, Nov. 22-Dec. 20; and other schools later in the school year. Volunteers are matched with a classroom for five consecutive weekly 45-minute sessions with the same group of students and classroom teacher. Training provided. Email Leesa Rugg or call 240-487-7546.

Hunger Project Breakfast Servers: Saturday, Nov. 5, 8 am-12 noon, Silver Spring. Set up and serve breakfast to the hungry during this monthly project of Shepherds of Zion Ministries International Church. Must be able to lift 25 pound platters of food and able to stand for several hours while serving. Email Smith Vodi or call 240-393-9125.

SSL Icon Park Stewards: Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 7-8, 1-3:30 pm. Do something productive and fun during these days off of school: Pick up trash in the Paint Branch Stream Park in White Oak on Monday and/or the Stewartown Park in Gaithersburg on Tuesday. Montgomery Parks will provide bags, gloves, and trash grabbers. Minimum age: 14 or accompanied by an adult. Email Henry Coppola or register online.

SSL Icon Spanish Interpreters: Thursday and Friday, Nov. 10-11, two-hours shifts available between 1 and 8 pm, Gaithersburg. Facilitate communication at parent-teacher conferences at Gaithersburg Elementary. Interpreters are coordinated through the Ed Bohrer Parent Resource Center/Family Services Inc.  and must be fluent in English and Spanish. Knowledge of educational terminology is a plus. Training provided the day of service. Email Mary Murphy or call 301-840-3183.

SSL Icon Aquatic Garden Assistants: Saturday, Nov. 12, 10 am-12 noon, Washington. Remove cut lotus and invasive plants, pick up trash, plant native plants, and help with similar winter-preparation projects at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Email Tina O'Connell, call 202-494-0456, or register online

Homeless Resource Day Volunteers and Donors: Thursday, Nov. 17, shifts available 7:30 am-3 pm, Gaithersburg. Greet, guide, and otherwise assist guests with accessing services, resources, and information at this annual one-day, one-stop assistance program for individuals and families experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. Advance registration and online training required. Sponsored by the Montgomery County Health & Human Services' Special Needs Housing, the program is also accepting donations of clothing, food, and hygiene items. Email Gloria Huggins, call 240-777-4565, or register online.

SSL Icon Book Sorters: Sort through pallets of books delivered to Velocity of Books in Silver Spring, organize them by type (for adults or children), and pack into boxes for distribution to schools, shelters, nursing homes, and more. Project is not particularly strenuous, but volunteers must be able to lift 25 pounds. Email Carolyn Thompson or call 301-674-3056.

Medication Management Assistants: Provide seniors with help in filling prescriptions, creating medication checklists, and knowing when to take what medication, a critical need given that 30 percent of seniors take five or more prescription drugs. The Jewish Council for the Aging will provide volunteers with training in proper medication management and related topics. Opportunities are county-wide. Email Dana Hirsch or call 240-395-0915.

SSL Icon Stage Crew: Wear black, move like a ninja, and appear on stage without having to learn lines for Rockville Little Theatre's production of "The Miracle Worker." Must be at least 16, able to lift moderately heavy items, and able to attend all performances and tech week rehearsals (weekends in early February and some weeknights leading up to then). Additional opportunities available for set construction/painting volunteers and light/sound techniciansEmail the volunteer coordinator

SSL Icon Elementary School Homework Tutors: Help students at a Silver Spring elementary school with homework on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3:30-4:30 pm. Tutors are coordinated through God Glorified Church of God in Christ. Email Storm Innis

Household Finance Managers: Work with low-income, physically or mentally disabled county residents who need help managing their social security or other federal benefits. EveryMind's representative payee volunteers typically spend four to six hours a month working with a client to make sure his or her bills are paid and funds remain for essential expenses. Minimum age: 21. Requires general knowledge of household budgeting, a background check, a one-year commitment, and training. (Upcoming training sessions are offered on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 1-3:30 pm; Thursday, Nov. 17, 6-8:30 pm; Thursday, Dec. 1, 1-3:30 pm; and Thursday, Dec. 15, 6-8:30 pm.) Email Pamela Lee or call 301-424-0656.
Get the Scoop on Serving as a Tax-Aide Volunteer

Interested in providing an important service to your community during tax season? Consider volunteering to schedule appointments, prepare taxes, or greet clients through the RSVP/AARP Tax-Aide Program, which offers tax preparation for low-to-moderate income taxpayers (with special attention to those 60+). Training is provided.

Learn more about these volunteer opportunities at one of these upcoming information sessions (no registration required):
  • Tuesday, Nov. 15, 1-3 pm, Chevy Chase Library (8005 Connecticut Ave.)
  • Friday, Nov. 18, 10:30 am-12:30 pm, Mid County Community Recreation Center (2004 Queensguard Rd., Silver Spring)
  • Thursday, Dec. 1, 2-4pm, Gaithersburg Library (18330 Montgomery Village Ave.)
For more information about joining the Tax-Aide Program team, call 240-777-2612 or visit the Tax-Aide web page. You can also get a more in-depth feel for the program by watching this episode of Make a Difference, highlighting the Tax-Aide Program.
County Council Seeks Applicants for its Grants Advisory Group

The Montgomery County Council is seeking individuals who live or work in the county to serve on its grants advisory group, which reviews grant applications and advises the council on proposals from the nonprofit community.  Advisory group members serve in a volunteer capacity and may not be employees or members of a board of a nonprofit group applying for council grant funding.

To apply, send a letter of interest and resume before 4 pm on Wednesday, Nov. 9, to Council President Nancy Floreen, Montgomery County Council, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850, or via email

Get more details online or call 240-777-7935.

In related volunteer opportunities, the county is also currently accepting applications for several boards, committees, and commissions that report to the county executive. Current openings exist on the Cable and Communications Advisory Committee, the Forest Conservation Advisory Committee, the Recreation and Parks Advisory Board, the Library Board, and Commission on Veterans Affairs. Learn more and/or apply online.
Community Service Week 2016
Gaithersburg Middle School students spent their Saturday cleaning up school grounds.
Residents Across the County Volunteer During Community Service Week

Thousands of county residents rolled up their sleeves to help with a variety of projects at nonprofits, schools, and other organizations during Montgomery County's Community Service Week, which spanned Oct. 16-23 this year. Volunteers cleaned and painted facilities, prepared and collected food for the hungry, pulled weeds and built gardens, created welcome packages for refugees and foster children, and much more. Thank you to everyone who volunteered and to all of the organizations that hosted projects!

Check out the Community Service Week web page for a wrap-up of the week, including press coverage and a photo gallery highlighting the county's spirit of service in action. (If you have photos from the week, email us to add them to the gallery.)
Learn Hospice Care Skills at Volunteer Training

Hospice Caring Inc. is offering a free three-day training session for those interested in volunteering as hospice caregivers and bereavement facilitators. The training will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Nov. 15-17, 8:30 am-4 pm, in Gaithersburg, and will cover topics such as communication and active listening, understanding grief, cultural competency, and self-care.

Trained Hospice Caring volunteers provide companionship, home assistance, and transportation to patients in need, and also facilitate adult bereavement support groups, school-based children's Good Grief Clubs, and health classes.  See details on the organization's many volunteer opportunities here.

Learn more about the training here. To register, email Penny Gladhill or call 301-990-8904.
VITA Receives State Service Award

The Maryland Governor's Service Awards recently presented the Montgomery County Community Action Agency's VITA Partnership with its "Community of Service" award in recognition of the agency's "significant volunteer contributions to the state and its people, changing Maryland for the better." 

The VITA Partnership, part of the county's Department of Health & Human Services, engaged 122 volunteers who helped 2,543 households receive more than $4.9 million in tax refunds or credits last year. The program is now recruiting volunteers for the 2016 tax season to serve as tax preparers, greeters, interpreters, hunger resource navigators, schedulers, site coordinators, and quality reviewers. Call 240-777-1123, or visit the VITA website for more information.
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The Montgomery County Volunteer Center is part of the Office of Community Partnerships, which works to strengthen the relationship between the Montgomery County government and the residents it serves, with special emphasis on underserved and emerging communities. Subscribe to the monthly OCP newsletter to keep up these activities. 

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Montgomery County Volunteer Center