JFS Perspectives

Monday, August 21, 2017

Lunchbox Express Volunteers Helped Us Fight Hunger Throughout the Summer

Lunchbox Express Volunteers Helped Us Fight Hunger Throughout the Summer

How many people does it take to distribute more than 30,000 lunches to low-income children in the summer? It turns out it takes a village … a village of dedicated individual and group volunteers.

Three hundred people helped out in our Lunchbox Express program this summer, including a record 18 volunteer groups—triple the amount from last year! Many people worked multiple shifts and many individuals and groups were new to JFS.

The Lunchbox Express program would not be possible without these dedicated volunteers. Our Volunteer Services department works hard to ensure Lunchbox Express and other JFS programs and services have the volunteers they need to get the work done.

Christine Gillow, Volunteer Services manager, joined JFS last year and was tasked with finding hundreds of volunteers to fill the Lunchbox Express shifts. She and JFS teammates strategized about how to reach beyond individual volunteers. “We thought it would be a good idea to work with groups with whom we had existing relationships, such as corporate sponsors of our fundraising events,” Christine explains. She contacted these sponsors, as well as many other community organizations.

“I am thrilled with the response we got from numerous organizations in the community and the opportunity it provides to deepen relationships with these groups,” says Christine. “It was truly a team effort; our volunteer department worked closely with Doug Vega, Lunchbox Express coordinator, to ensure all of the volunteers had the best possible experiences.”

We wish to thank these groups, which represented corporate, civic, education, government, medical, and retail organizations: Aimco, Boys Team Charity, Carreon Dental, Charles Schwab, CoBiz, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado Health Foundation, Denver Business Journal, Emerging Leaders Council of Mile High United Way, Hillel of Colorado, Kroenke Sports Entertainment, Monroe Group Ltd., MorEvents, Red Robin, Regis Jesuit High School Boys Division, Ridgeview Dental, WOW! (WideOpenWest), and Xcel Energy.

Both the organizations who sent volunteers and the individuals doing the work received countless benefits. Many companies offer paid volunteer days. For example, WOW! shares on its LinkedIn page, “WIN days give our employees an opportunity to contribute to the well-being of the communities they serve while demonstrating our core values of servanthood and ownership!” Also, showing the work they do in the community is a great way to garner more awareness of their business.

Kroenke Sports & Entertainment recently brought a group of employees to volunteer on two bus routes for its annual Summer Day of Service. Peggi Miller, vice president of Risk Management, says, “The experience was amazing. The kids and their parents were so friendly and fun to talk to, and we learned a ton about the Lunchbox Express program from our awesome bus driver, Ryan. We chose Lunchbox Express as our activity because we were curious about the program and wanted to help kids and their families during the summer season.”

JFS receives many benefits from these partnerships as well. Large groups help us fill Lunchbox Express routes. The individuals who come as part of a group learn more about us, which often leads to future volunteer work, donations, and referrals for our services. We also appreciate when groups post on social media about their volunteer experiences, expanding our reach in the community.

Dawn Richard, JFS Development director, says, “Many of the groups that volunteered this summer are JFS donors and this volunteer opportunity is enriching that relationship. We greatly value their financial support, and it’s such a meaningful experience for them to witness some of our work up close as they lend a hand.”

Dylan List from Boys Team CharityBoys Team Charity, which provides volunteer opportunities for middle and high school boys and their parents, is a new partner this year. One of its members, Dylan List, held a food drive for JFS last year for his bar mitzvah. He then connected Boys Team with us to participate in Lunchbox Express and the Summer Youth Program in the food pantry. They plan to continue to work with JFS on projects throughout the year. Dylan’s mother, Bonnie, says, “I want my kids to realize how fortunate they are. They know where their next meal is coming from, but most of the kids receiving Lunchbox Express meals don’t.”

Christine Gillow’s work behind the scenes to contact and schedule all the Lunchbox Express volunteers is rooted in a lifetime commitment to volunteerism. “I have incredible respect for volunteers. I believe there’s no greater gift than someone’s time and dedication to our mission. I am so appreciative.”

If your workplace or organization is interested in learning more about group volunteer opportunities, contact Christine at 720.248.4599. You might even get to meet Powell, the assistance puppy-in-training she is raising, who accompanies her to the office!


Header photo: Volunteers from Kroenke Sports & Entertainment with Christine Gillow (center).