SJ-R Column: September 13, 2020

As originally published in the The State Journal Register.

Hand raisers. Change makers. Everyday heroes. We’re looking for you!


Volunteering is something anyone can do, no matter their age. It’s a way to give back to your community and create a better future.


Volunteers selflessly give their time, talent and heart to make changes big and small in our community. Volunteers are one of the ways agencies across our community are able to help people in Sangamon and Menard counties each year. Our reach is greater because of volunteer’s time. And our community is stronger because of their heart.


Whether you have been volunteering for many years or are taking the first step in giving back to the community, United Way has lots of opportunities for you to get involved.


Traditionally, we gather hundreds of volunteers at dozens of projects for one day to do as much good as possible during United Way’s Day of Action. With COVID-19 still ongoing and ever changing, in-person/traditional Day of Action projects planned for this fall were cancelled. Despite these changes, United Way is excited to reveal virtual DAYS of Action and to work with volunteers in a new way!


United Way’s Day of Action is the chance to show everyone in our community that even though we are apart, we are United. Days of Action will take place September 23 through September 26, 2020. Each day will feature an opportunity that represents one of United Way’s four issue areas: Basic Needs, Education, Financial Stability and Health.


In partnership with Express Employment Professionals and to kickoff Days of Action, on Wednesday, September 23rd individuals seeking resume review and mock interviews can sign up to receive advice from volunteers and professional experts. In addition to individuals signing up to receive the advice, we are looking for volunteers to assist job seekers in need by providing advice on resumes and performing a mock interview. Volunteers will ask real interview questions and provide feedback for improvement and will also review resumes and cover letters. Volunteers can also provide guidance on how to dress for an in-person or online interview as well as other tips for success. For this project, volunteers will need to register on the website in advance by September 21st and further instructions will be provided.


To feature our Health issue area on September 24th, United Way will partner with Third Presbyterian Church to create “ready to sew” makes that will have all of the materials in one easy kit. Each mask will take approximately 15 mins to complete. Volunteers will need to have access to a sewing machine in order to participate in this project.


On September 25th, volunteers can write letters of support for District 186 students. These letters submitted online will be printed and distributed with District 186’s free and reduced lunches. A simple letter of encouragement can brighten a local student’s day!


The only in-person opportunity, will support United Way’s Basic Needs issue area, with a food drive to help fill local micropantries. On September 26th, donations can be dropped off at the United Way office (1999 Wabash Ave. Springfield, IL) from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. You will be greeted by volunteers wearing masks who will accept your donation and maintain social distancing. A list of suggested items to donate is available on our website, volunteer.springfieldunitedway.org.


Even from a distance, the spirit of community and volunteerism is still alive. Those that are considering volunteering during COVID-19 now have options, both in-person as well as virtual efforts.


Our community is still feeling the impact of COVID-19. But you can make a difference by giving back. United Way is invested in keeping volunteers and our community safe. All in-person activities are designed to keep volunteers safe while still providing an opportunity to make a difference.

To hear more about the importance of volunteerism and additional ways to raise your hand, join United Way on our next session of United We Learn on September 18th at 9:15 a.m. United We Learn is a virtual learning opportunity hosted every other Friday by United Way of Central Illinois. Each session is fifteen minutes and will be recorded so they can be viewed at a later time. Learn more about United We Learn at springfieldunitedway.org/UnitedWeLearn.

Volunteers are proof that change doesn’t happen alone. Gather your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers and joins us to do some good from your home. If you’re ready to give back to our community, learn more about Days of Action at volunteer.springfieldunitedway.org or by calling 217-726-7000.

Mitch Baker is the Community Impact Manager at United Way of Central Illinois. Visit www.springfieldunitedway.org to learn more.

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