According to Volunteering in America, Minnesota ranked third in the nation in volunteerism for 2011, with 1.5 million volunteers contributing more than 173 million hours of service. That equates to about 3.7 billion dollars!
At 360 Communities, we are privileged to witness Minnesota’s generosity in action on a daily basis. Volunteers stock our food shelves, read to children at our Lewis House domestic violence shelters, connect families with valuable resources at our family resource centers, and make holiday joy a reality for families unable to provide gifts for their children through our Armful of Love program.
360 Communities Feed My Sheep Food Shelf at Messiah Lutheran Church in Lakeville is one of a network of five 360 Communities food shelves throughout Dakota County. Recently Pastor Bob Schulze of Messiah Lutheran said this food shelf satisfies a need in his congregation beyond hunger. “People want to give back to their community,” says Schulze, “This food shelf gives them a pathway to do just that.”
Pastor Schulze touched on one of the key strengths of 360 Communities: the wide variety of pathways it provides community members to give back. More than 1,000 volunteers donate their time and talents to 360 Communities every year and businesses also contribute with food drives and giving campaigns. In fact, 360 Communities would not exist without the generosity of those in the communities we serve.
Many clients who benefit from 360 Communities’ programs return to volunteer or to donate, appreciating the hand up they received during difficult times. There are others who make cash and food donations part of their annual giving plan.
Recently, a family returned to our food shelf in Burnsville as they do each time one of their daughters has a birthday. They celebrate each milestone by shopping at a local food store, then donating the food and other much needed items to the food shelf. This selfless act is their way of giving back to the community they love while at the same time providing their children with an example of giving they will carry with them throughout their lives.
Seeing the families that come into 360 Communities, and the ways we help them, makes me feel so blessed every day to be a part of this staff. Within the last month I have heard different comments from families like “Thank you 360 Communities, for making a hard time easier” and “When life’s really difficult, it helps to have people like you to lean on.” Over the years, I have learned that life is not about yourself, it’s about the difference you can make in the time that you have been given.
Please help us make a difference for people in need this holiday season. Donate by visiting 360Communities.org or contact me at 952.985.4017 to find out more about how you can contribute.