Volunteering is one of the most powerful ways to create change in the community.
Our corporate partners have long supported United Way agencies by sending employees out into the community for Days of Caring volunteer experiences, and that practice continues.
But it doesn’t work for everyone.
In 2018, United Way BCKR rolled out a new volunteer option called Pop Up Volunteering. The concept is simple: We bring the volunteer project to our volunteers at a location of their choice. Companies or groups choose and fund a kit-based project, and United Way staff brings the materials, provides instruction and distributes the final product.
In 10 months, volunteers from fifteen companies – and one middle school classroom – produced more than 31,600 products or kits this year. The items have been distributed to 41 agencies and their clients throughout the region.
“It’s just amazing,” said UWBCKR Director of Engagement Jamie Rugg. “The Pop Up Volunteer events are fun, but seeing the impact that the assembled kits have on the organizations and community may be the best part.”
Catholic Charities Diocese of Kalamazoo is one of several organizations that have received products, including cleaning kits, feminine hygiene kits and mama care kits. The cleaning kits have been used in their transitional housing program for homeless youth, mama care kits in their Caring Network program and the hygiene kits will be used at The Ark Shelter, drop-in days and for outreach events.
“For us, it just really makes us feel like the community understands that it takes a village,” said Jody Elms, donation and volunteer coordinator for youth independent living and outreach at CCDOK. “We feel like they’re honoring and validating the work we do, and then partnering with us.”
The feminine hygiene kits are especially appreciated, she said. That’s an item that is expensive and seldom donated, but always needed.
“It’s a blessing, a huge one,” she said.
Pop Up Volunteering kits have been well-received by agencies throughout the region, and the events themselves are becoming popular with corporate partners.
“We’ve had great feedback from the companies who have participated,” said Rugg. “It’s an opportunity to develop team-building skills and engage employees differently in a volunteer event that is very customizable.”
Participating groups have included Stryker, Eaton, Kellogg’s, DeNooyer, Advia Credit Union, UPS, Mann + Hummel, Parchment Middle School, Honigman, Abraxas, Kellogg Community Credit Union, Hilliard Lyons, Ascension Borgess, Denso, Landscape Forms and Pfizer.
“I never know where to volunteer and feel uncomfortable going somewhere that I am not familiar with,” one volunteer said. “I was so grateful that this was brought to a place where I was comfortable and able to help.”
In addition to funding and completing a project, corporate partners also have the opportunity to fund public Pop Up Volunteering events.
If you’d like to schedule a Pop Up Volunteering event, find more information or become a recipient agency, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to get you started. Click here to see a menu of project options and guidelines.
Download PDF for a one-page summary of this year’s Pop Up Volunteering impact.