Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Our blog has moved

Our blog has moved! Visit to stay up-to-date with Hands On Charlotte.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Special moments at Center of Hope for kids and volunteers

A week ago, fellow volunteer Leticia Foster and I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Salvation Army’s Center of Hope. The Center is Charlotte’s only year-round emergency shelter, serving more than 1,000 children each year. The project gives volunteers a chance to spend an hour with the children at the Center. Typically, organized activities include board games, arts and crafts and outdoor playtime on the playground.

This was my first time at the Center, and I didn’t really know what to expect. As soon as I walked in I was greeted by two little girls who ran up and gave me a huge hug and did not want me to put them down. I picked them up, held them for awhile, and when their mom told them it was time to go, they would not let go. That was truly a special moment for me. I realized then how much these children appreciate the attention we are able to offer them through this project.

The time spent with the children serves as an outlet that allows them to simply be kids for an hour. During our time at the Center, we played some childhood classics such as Trouble, Chutes and Ladders and Scrabble. It was refreshing to play good, old-fashioned board games again. I had forgotten how much I loved them as a kid. Although, we both realized how far removed from childhood we really are when the kids began beating us at our own game. Leticia described the night as a “flashback to her elementary school years“, and was amazed to see the innocence of the children while interpreting the games in their own fashion.

Project leader Beth Butchino said she initially started with the project to establish connections with the children. I can see how time with these warm, smiling faces can keep you coming back. The children genuinely look forward to this project every week. Leticia had one child ask her, “Is this every week?” The time spent with the children was rewarding and memorable. Both Leticia and I hope to consistently volunteer at this project in order to give the children some familiar faces to look forward to every week. The project meets every Wednesday from 6:45-8pm. To sign up, please visit our website.

Kristen Okamoto is a Hands On Charlotte volunteer.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Roundup: The “Wait, It’s June Already?” Edition

So wait, it’s June? It seems like March was just last week. OK, calendar, you win. You always do. Exciting things are on the docket for Hands On Charlotte in June. The team is heading to New Orleans this weekend for a four-day conference. Stay tuned to the blog, Twitter and Facebook for updates. A summer intern will start at some point. And at the end of the month, we’re launching our new website.

And as usual, we have a long list of fun projects where you can volunteer in Charlotte. This weekend, we’re all set on Sunday, but we need you out volunteering tomorrow. Here are some open volunteer projects in Charlotte tomorrow:

  • Mountain Biking with Kids: It’s that easy. You get to teach kids about bike safety and to go for a bike ride. If you’re a bike enthusiast, this project is for you.
  • Assistance League Thrift Store: Sort through donations and prepare them for sale at the Assistance League Thrift Store. Fun-loving project for an amazing organization.
  • Little Sugar Creek Community Garden: Have a green thumb? Do you wish you had a green thumb but you don’t have the space for a garden? Come help this awesome community garden near Uptown. The best part: you can take what you grow, and it’s free!

With a week left in school, we’re officially on summer watch. Amidst the vacations, pool visits and cookouts, don’t forget to keep volunteering throughout the summer. We’ll be here at Hands On Charlotte to keep the projects posted! Happy June, everyone!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Foster volunteers at Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina

Hands On Charlotte volunteers were busy in action despite the heat advisories at Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina yesterday. This week, I had the opportunity to assist the local food bank in the “Race Against Hunger” project. This was my first experience here at Second Harvest and I learned quite a bit in the two hours I volunteered.

Every year, Second Harvest delivers at least 3 million pounds of foods to agencies in 19 counties in the Carolinas. Last week, Second Harvest opened its 4th satellite location in Spartanburg. Prior to this opening, agencies in Spartanburg and the surrounding areas traveled the one and half hour commute to Charlotte to pick up food deliveries! During this particular volunteer event, Hands On Charlotte volunteers assisted with sorting donations from CVS. I never really realized the variety of household and beauty items the store sells until this particular sort. In addition to household items, the volunteers also prepared snack donations to be delivered to the new location warehouse.

Unfortunately, during this visit I was unable to meet the well-respected Ms. Grace. Ms. Grace is an employee of Second Harvest who has dedicated 26 years to servicing agencies in need. I was looking forward to hearing her stories from working at Second Harvest and her interaction with other volunteers and recipients…I guess this means I will be volunteering again!

Leticia Foster is a Hands On Charlotte volunteer.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Speed Street promises fun for community, volunteers

The 17th-annual SPEED Street has begun! If you haven’t been to Speed Street in Charlotte then you need to walk away from your computer and head downtown immediately. The event kicks off at noon each day and will make for an amazing Friday and Saturday in Uptown. There are tons of booths set up to give away all sorts of cool free merch! There is food and drinks galore and music in every direction you walk. The event stretches down Tryon and Martin Luther King, with festivities lasting until 11:00pm each night. There will be guest appearances from some of the drivers, lots of NASCAR fun for serious fans and great performers are hitting the stage including headliners Clay Walker, Josh Turner and Everclear.

I had the opportunity to work with the Green Team through Hands On Charlotte on yesterday’s opening day. The Green Team meets for a quick run-down of the day’s events and to pick up their sweet t-shirts, which allowed us to be walking reminders to everyone in Uptown that they should recycle! Last year the Green Team played a huge part in keeping OVER 7.5 TONS of recyclable material out of the waste bins. Our job was to walk around Speed Street making sure garbage was put in trash bins and recyclables were put in designated containers. We had brand new garbage pickers to use, so no problem keeping clean. It was amazing how many people expressed their appreciation as we walked up and down the streets. Best part of volunteering was getting to enjoy Speed Street while we helped out!

To get involved with the Green Team, you can check the Hands On Charlotte website to sign up for one of the three shifts of the day. There are open shifts to volunteer today and tomorrow. If you are planning on spending the day enjoying the festivities, feel free to sign up for more than one shift! There’s always more to recycle!

Kira Hale is a Hands On Charlotte volunteer.