“Hug” Your Community This December with Volunteer Odyssey

I recently met a volunteer at a food packing event with Catholic Charities of West Tennessee. We worked on an assembly line, taking large Ziploc bags from table to table filling them with different foods. At the last table, you squeezed the air out of the bags to seal them—and that volunteer said she loved this step, because it was like giving each bag a hug.

It’s special to think about hugging each bag of food that’s working to alleviate childhood hunger. It’s special to think about hugging in a time when physical touch is so limited.

With any job, the behind the scenes work is crucial. You need someone packing food boxes, and you need someone passing them out. Having any hand in making an impact is just like hugging each item that feeds, clothes, or teaches a neighbor in need. We may not be able to actually hug our neighbors, but we can have a hand in alleviating stressors of poverty, inequality, and healthcare.

Here are eight ways to hug your communities this December through volunteerism:

Catholic Charities of West Tennessee Food Box Packing (Dec. 3rd, 1PM-3PM) OR Mobile Food Pantry (Mon-Thurs, 8:30-11:00am)

Assist Catholic Charities of West Tennessee in serving neighbors who are experiencing hunger and homelessness. They have opportunities every week day, like packing food boxes for their mobile food pantry or assisting with their drive-through pantry.

See all events and find one that fits your schedule here!

**If you have clothing items or shoes to donate, you can drive through their donation window off of Jefferson, Monday through Thursday from 8:30AM to 11:30am**

Memphis Tilth, St. Paul Garden

  • Every Wednesday (9:00AM-12:00PM) and Saturday (9AM-12PM) & (1PM-5PM)

Join Memphis Tilth in cultivating collective action for an economically sustainable, socially equitable, and environmentally sound local food system. You can join in their work at the St. Paul Garden as you clean, water, and plant in the garden. This is a wonderful opportunity to practice a hobby you love or learn a new skill as you help the community have access to healthy foods. Volunteers will need to attend a virtual orientation prior to their first shift to learn more about the mission and operations of Memphis Tilth.

Mark your calendar and sign up for your shift here!

Mid-South Toys for Tots: Warehouse Volunteer (various dates)

  • (8AM-12PM) & (12PM-3PM)

Mid-South Toys for Tots is preparing bundles of toys for hundreds of families across the Mid-South. You can help children experience the holiday season regardless of their families’ finances by volunteering in the warehouse, sorting and bundling toys. There are lots of dates to get these toys ready, now through the end of December.

Photo: MIFA Christmas Delivery Volunteers

Find a time that works for you here!

MIFA Christmas Day Delivery

  • December 25th

Join MIFA for their holiday tradition of 35 years where volunteers deliver a hot meal and a gift bag to more than 800 senior clients on Christmas morning. This year’s event will feature outdoor meal pick-up, and other COVID-19 safety measures. Space is limited so sign-up today.

Reserve your spot here!

Cherokee Health Systems: Tuesday- Thursday

  • (9AM-12PM) & (1PM-3PM)

Give back to two Memphis communities as Cherokee Health Systems offers COVID-19 testing to anyone who needs it. Volunteers are needed to assist with paperwork, packing swab kits, taking information, and other tasks to ensure the drive-through testing runs smoothly and safely. Protective gear will be worn at all times.

Register for your shift here!

Memphis Botanic Garden: Holiday Wonders Event

  • Now through December 27th (4PM-9PM)

Volunteers will help create a fun holiday environment! They will assist with scanning tickets, running activities, directing guests to where they need to go, and other tasks as needed. This will be a great way to spread some holiday cheer while also helping out! Festive clothes are welcome- just be sure to dress warmly as this event is outdoors! Volunteers will be required to abide by all city, state, and federal guidelines on masks and social distancing.

Sign up to spread holiday cheer here!

Shelby Farms, Starry Nights Volunteer

  • Monday, Wednesday-Sunday (various shifts available)

Starry Nights at Shelby Farms Park is a bright and fun experience, full of lights and holiday magic!  This holiday event has been shining brightly for more than a decade, and cruising through the lights is a long-standing holiday tradition for thousands of families. It’s also the Park’s largest annual fundraiser. This year’s show promises to be brighter than ever, and volunteer are need to pull it off! Tasks include greeting and interacting with visitors, directing traffic, assisting in the event check in areas, and spreading holiday cheer.

Sign up for your shift here!

St. Vincent de Paul Care Kits, remote

Build care kits for neighbors experiencing hunger and homelessness who are served daily by the St. Vincent de Paul food mission. For a list of products to donate and drop-off information, email dannon@volunteerodyssey.com.

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