Find ways to help those in need in your community
By Abigail Thorpe
November is a time of expectation. Looking forward to family dinners and gatherings with friends, it’s a time to cozy up by the fire and wait expectantly for the snow to come. But most importantly, it’s a season of thanksgiving for what we have, and a reminder to give back.
For many, the advent of colder weather and harsher months means higher living costs, less access to food and a hard six months ahead. As we look forward to the joy of this season, may we also stop to consider how we can share that joy with those around us.
Throughout the entire year, food banks, shelters and soup kitchens are in need of volunteers and donations, but in this season especially, there is a need for those willing to give of their time or their resources in whatever way they can.
“Our whole community prospers when people are able to utilize their talents and passions and reach their full potential,” says Kim Spencer, community services manager for Community Action Partnership in Coeur d’Alene.
There are many opportunities to serve in our local communities. COVID-19 has made it especially difficult for nonprofits to survive and continue providing the essential services they offer those in need, and they need support now more than ever.
“Without the donations of food, money and cleaning supplies, this would have been a very tough year for us and the children. We are so grateful for every dollar raised and every good donated,” explains Vanessa Moos, director of Charitable Giving for Children’s Village in Coeur d’Alene.
The Children’s Village provides full time trauma-informed care for children, offering a safe haven for children who have been abused, neglected, or are in a severe family crisis. The current pandemic has limited the number of volunteers who can enter the children’s homes, but it has significantly increased the cost of staffing, and of housing and feeding the residents.
“Every time someone new learns about our organization we are deeply grateful,” adds Moos. “With the economic changes ahead due to the pandemic, the rate of child abuse and neglect will surge. Please learn about our mission, the children need you!”
Any amount given helps to continue the mission, and fundraisers are particularly critical for the nonprofit. If you have an idea, go for it, encourages Moos. They even offer posters at the front desk you can display in your business, storefront, restroom or home. To learn more or contribute to the organization, visit TheChildrensVillage.org.
Seventy-four years ago, St. Vincent de Paul North Idaho opened its doors to help serve the poor and homeless in the Coeur d’Alene and North Idaho community. They offer emergency and short-term housing to men, women and children, and also provide veteran and social services to the community.
From volunteers at their thrift stores and various outreach programs, to monetary giving and donations, the nonprofit is able to provide the incredible services they offer because of those who have given of their time and resources. Visit StVincentdePaulCdA.org to learn more about how you can give back.
Community Action Partnership offers energy programs to assist with heating and electrical costs, food banks, family coaching and weatherization services to those in need in the Coeur d’Alene community. Each service makes a difference in its own way, whether it’s a transactional service to help individuals and families make ends meet, or a more transformational service to help people reach their goals.
“Volunteers are vital! We would be very challenged to operate without a volunteer staff,” says Spencer. “Not only is it necessary for us in day-to-day operations, but it also gives many people the opportunity to give back to the community, which can also be really fulfilling.”
Community Action Partnership is always in need of volunteers. They receive many food donations from local grocery stores and restaurants but have seen food drives slowing down as a result of COVID-19. They can provide barrels to anyone who wants to host a food drive, and will even pick the barrels up, making it incredibly easy to help. To find out about volunteer opportunities, donate food or money, or host a food drive in the Coeur d’Alene area, call 208.664.8757 or visit CAP4Action.org.
The nonprofit also offers its energy programs, family coaching and weatherization services in Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry, with the addition of food banking in the Bonners Ferry area.
Donations and volunteer hours are vital to helping the Bonners Ferry office continue its services. “I know no better recipe for inspiration than that of volunteers helping, from both their perspective and from our perspective,” says Liz Bigsby of the Bonners Ferry office.
“CAP staff wear many hats, and in order for us to accomplish our goals that aim to help people lift themselves out of poverty, we lean on the shoulders of great volunteers—these folks that come to faithfully serve out of the kindness of their hearts. Volunteers are vital for us because they enable us to do a more complete job.”
While Community Action Partnership does not offer food banking services in Sandpoint, the Bonner Community Food Bank provides hunger relief to all of Bonner County. The nonprofit solicits and collects food for distribution through a network of service agencies and programs that serve low-income families and individuals, and includes a client choice market, emergency food programs, weekend food kits for children, senior box programs, produce boxes and a community garden.
The Bonner Community Food Bank currently serves 1,800 to 2,000 families every month and is always looking for compassionate volunteers. “We wouldn't be here today without our donors and volunteers who contribute their time, talent and resources,” shares Debbie Love, executive director of the food bank.
“They are integral to the work that we do from those bringing food and/or nonfood donations, financial contributions, and their time in our warehouse or market to ensure that we have food for those in need.” To volunteer, call the food bank at 208.263.3663 or visit FoodBank83864.com.
Bonner Homeless Transitions serves the needs of the homeless in the Sandpoint area by providing transitional housing to the homeless, helping them move on to permanent housing.
Particularly at this time of year, housing is essential for those currently living without. Volunteers help provide financial resources, time or materials for the nonprofit to complete its various projects. To contribute to helping provide shelter for those without, visit BonnerHomelessTransitions.org.
Whether it's giving of your free time, sharing extra food you have in your pantry or donating money or goods to a nonprofit helping those in need, there are so many opportunities to give back this Thanksgiving season. Take the opportunity to find where you can make a difference in another’s life this November—even for just a day.