If you’re looking for new ways to engage with your kids and introduce them to their community, then volunteering may be a great option for you!
Volunteering can teach your children about giving back and can give them a sense of pride and confidence. Doing something kind for others is the best feeling because it can create smiles, bring joy, and make an impact.
TABLE relies on almost 100 volunteers every week to feed the children we serve in Orange County. Our volunteers work on-site helping organize and shelve food; fill bags with fresh food and nonperishables; and deliver food directly to kids’ homes. We also have many opportunities for people to support TABLE from home which is a great way to share quality time with your children while also teaching them about kindness.
Whether you want to volunteer on-site or from home, we have lots of fun opportunities for you and your kids!
On-site volunteering at TABLE
On-site volunteer shifts are available to unpack, organize, and shelve the shipments and donations of food we receive. We also have shifts for volunteers to assemble bags. Both types of shifts are fun for kids as they get to unpackage food, place it on our shelves or work in an assembly line to fill bags!
While kids are welcome at all our shifts, we do have a kids bagging shift on Wednesday afternoons that is specifically geared toward elementary school-aged kids. Masks are required at all shifts.
We are now accepting volunteers of all ages! Children up to 13 years of age must be accompanied by an adult. Kids 14 – 17 can volunteer on their own but must have a signed consent form.
There are several different options for shift times and days. For more information, visit here.
What can you do to help from home?
Donate your plastic grocery bags
The food we deliver to children is packed in plastic grocery bags from stores such as Harris Teeter, Target, or any other grocery store. We fill up to 750 bags with food every week and we doublebag the food so we require over 1,500 bags each week.
Bags can take up a lot of space (as you know from the piles you collect at home!), so we flatten the bags and store them in bins. As your plastic bags build up, you and your kids can sort through your bags, remove any bags with holes, flatten them into a stack, and then drop them off at our office. You can even make it a timed race with your kids to see who can flatten the most bags in the least amount of time! And, consider asking family, neighbors, or friends to contribute their plastic bags as well, and add them to your stack!
Collect food to give to local kids
Each bag contains 10 meal and snack items with 50 percent being nonperishables and 50 percent fresh food. While we order food every week, we also rely on the generous donations of community members.
Hosting a food drive is a great way to educate children about helping others in the community and can be a fun way to bring children together as they work toward a common goal. There are many ways to donate food:
- Purchase (in-person or online) with your children, letting them pick out a few foods to share with TABLE’s participants, explaining the value of giving to others.
- Package bags of nonperishable food with your family or a small group (each bag could contain a balanced variety of items such as breakfast foods, fruit cups/canned vegetables, grains, proteins, etc.). For details about doing this on a large scale (50+ bags), contact Abi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Donate fresh produce from the store or your home garden to TABLE on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday (so we can be sure to give it out while still fresh).
- Host a food drive either through your neighborhood, school, sports team, scout troops, or just amongst friends! This can be done in person, socially distant, or virtually.
Here’s a guide to some useful hints for hosting a food drive. Also, here is a list of our most wanted food items!
Host a bake sale
While traditionally we see kids host lemonade stands, with the colder temperatures you might consider hosting a neighborhood bake sale. You could advertise with your neighborhood asking them to provide a donation (food or money) for TABLE in exchange for a freshly made baked cookie, brownie, or bread!
You and your children will have fun organizing and baking together and maybe meet a new neighbor at the same time!
TABLE has been feeding local kids since 2008 and we’ve delivered over 2 million meals! This is only possible with the help of our volunteers and community members. We hope you will consider volunteering – at home or in-person – today. And if you have an idea about how your kids can support TABLE that’s not on our list, please share it with us!