Dare I say it… spring is here! The snowbanks are melted, the forsythia is starting to bloom, and New Englanders are emerging from their winter hibernation. At United Way it means that there are a lot of great ways to get involved over the next few months. I would like to cover just a few of those here, in the hopes that we might give you a great opportunity to help out. The specific opportunities I will cover today are Pop Up Food Pantries, Ribbons for Educators, Earth Day Recycling, Community Wide Food Drive, Mother’s Day Flowers, and Over the Edge.
Pop Up Food Pantries – As you might be aware, since the beginning of the pandemic we have been partnering with the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter, the YMCA, and the Boys and Girls Club to have weekly food pantries open in the community. To date, these have made available free fresh produce and protein to almost 15,000 individuals and families. During the winter, these pantries go indoors and starting next week we are going back to our outdoor locations. All told, starting next week, there will be 2-3 locations open daily for a couple of hours mid day in a total of twelve different community spots. You can find a full list of the times and locations on our website under the COVID-19 Community Food Resources tab. If you know someone who might benefit from this resource, please let them know, and if you would like to volunteer with us to help staff one of these locations, you can contact us, too! We would love all the help we can get. By the way, we are also very grateful to our friends from St. Joseph Hospital for helping to sponsor our pop-up food pantries.
Ribbons for Educators – Last month we launched a grassroots campaign to honor all of our school heroes. These have been a tough couple of years in the schools, and we felt that a little bit of morale booster would be a nice gesture. When school staff returned from February vacation, we greeted them with chocolates, thank you cards, and buttons presented by an army of volunteer “cheerleaders.” Now we are taking the campaign a step further and have purchased colored ribbons which you can tie on your mailbox or a tree in your front yard to honor our school heroes. Ribbons can be found at your local public library, or here at United Way. They are in school colors, for example in Hollis in blue, in Hudson in maroon, in Milford in Blue, in Nashua in purple, green, and blue… you get the idea. Pick up a ribbon from us or the library and show some love for the educators in our community. We think it is the least we can do to say thank you. And be sure to take a picture and put it on social media using the hashtag UnitedwithSchoolHeroes – together we can send a strong message of love, positivity, and support.
Earth Day Recycling – Coming up in April for the very first time we are planning a technology / electronics recycling event. This is a brand-new event for us and is a win-win. We are calling it “United W(e) Recycle.” The way it works is that at specific hours during the week, you can bring your old electronics to our offices at United Way and drop them off. You will be asked to make a suggested donation for each item similar to what you might pay elsewhere. We will be accepting pretty much any electronics including old computers, phones, TV’s, A/C’s, etc. Just no refrigerators, fluorescent bulbs, smoke detectors, or alkaline batteries. We will then be taking the items to a recycler we have partnered with who will charge us a fee to take the items. The difference between your donation and our fee is fundraising that will be used to support our School Supply Pantry. This pantry is a resource available to teachers to support the needs of their low-income students with things like notebooks, pencils, markers, backpacks, and technology. What a great way to help the community out! You get to de-clutter your old junk, help the environment, and support students at the same time. And a big thanks to our friends from MI-BOX who are sponsoring the event by placing one of their units at United Way to help us take in the collected items! So, take a look at what you’ve got hanging around for old e-junk, and bring it down to us! The event dates, items, and price list can be found on our website under the events tab. Our web address is www.unitedwaynashua.org
Community Wide Food Drive – A few times during the pandemic we have run community wide food drives. And more recently we started doing food drives twice a month at Hannaford’s. We are really grateful for their support! What makes a United Way food drive different from many others is that the food and other items we collect end up going to many different food pantries. These items will support the Nashua Soup Kitchen, Corpus Christi, Southern NH Rescue Mission, St. Joseph Food Pantry, SHARE, Greater Nashua Mental Health, and others. At this point we are looking for people who might want to volunteer to support the event, which can be found on our website under the events tab. You can look for this food drive to be in at least a half-dozen or more store locations June 4th and 5th.
Mother’s Day Flowers for Homeless Moms – This is probably my favorite event of the year! For about a decade we have every year on Mother’s Day taken in donations and then used volunteers to prepare bouquets of flowers for the Homeless Moms in our community. If you think about it, this is a gesture of kindness and love. Sometimes we need to address basic needs, like food, clothing, and shelter. But other times we need to address the needs of the heart. The way the event works is that we collect money and then purchase the supplies to put together about 160 beautiful bouquets. We then hand deliver these to partner agencies like Family Promise, Marguerite’s Place, the Front Door Agency, and Mary’s House, among others. You can easily help support this project either as a donor at https://www.facebook.com/donate/3278115469087866/ or by reaching out to us to volunteer. In either case, you will feel good about warming somebody’s heart on their special day… a day which might otherwise get forgotten.
Over the Edge 2022 – Last but not least… this June we will be rappelling from the top of Brady-Sullivan’s 24 story tower in downtown Manchester. This fundraiser is truly unique in that the participants support a number of nonprofit organizations, not just United Way. For example, there are two teams from Southern New Hampshire Health supporting their assault program and their drug recovery program. When you donate to one of their team members, the donation goes to their program! How can you get involved? We are still actively recruiting teams and participants, looking for potential sponsors, and will be needing lots of volunteers. The event has its own web page which you can check out for more information and, if you want to get involved, just reach out to us at United Way. Here is the link to the truly remarkable collaborative and exciting event: www.tinyurl.com/luote2022
Well, I feel a little bit tired just going over all of these fantastic events, but I’m also exhilarated as I know many of you will want to get involved and find ways to be supportive this spring, because GREAT THINGS HAPPEN WHEN WE LIVE UNITED!
Mike Apfelberg is President of United Way of Greater Nashua.