Despite the pandemic, we have managed to get creative and revamped events to make it safe for both our volunteers and those we serve. The Community Engagement Program continued to provide meaningful monthly outreaches at Mercy Creekview Manor (senior housing), Green Valley Community Church, Loaves & Fishes’ Sister Nora’s Place, and even started a new partnership with The Upper Room in Placerville to serve those who are food insecure. We also helped distribute food with Placer Food Bank and assisted with a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Our youth volunteers learned to make face shields from scratch with guidance from our former board member Doug Bush, to donate to healthcare workers at Marshalls and Mercy Medical Group. Our Toiletries Drive in February was a blessing in disguise as we collected close to 14,000 toiletries (hundreds of roles of toilet paper and containers of hand sanitizers) that we would not have been able to collect a couple weeks later. Thankfully, these essential items were then distributed by Gen Walk, our adult volunteer, who spent many days dropping them off at various agencies in our community.
In addition to continuing our outreach events, we also added many in-home volunteer opportunities for those who preferred to help the community from the safety of their own homes. Hands4Hope youth members made over 1,000 cards to cheer up low income seniors who were isolated and lonely, as well as over 1,000 craft kits to help pass their time, and countless desserts to satisfy their cravings. They also made special Easter cards and 4th of July door hangers to brighten their spirits during the holidays. For Christmas, they made 200 stockings stuffed with treats, crafts, and puzzles which were distributed to those who received Meals on Wheels.
One of Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference’s most popular events, The Blanket Making Party, was cancelled due to the pandemic. However, that didn’t stop us from surpassing our goal of making over 150 blankets. Many of our generous members bought and made no-sew blankets at home with their families to donate to Hands4Hope’s Winter Boutique. Together with help from the El Dorado Hills NCL group and volunteers from Folsom Safe Credit Union, we made 169 blankets that were distributed to help keep families warm this holiday season.
Our Annual Warm and Fuzzy Drive was a huge success, thanks to our youth intern, Elise Taylor who helped to secure various businesses from Folsom to Placerville to collect new and gently used warm clothing. We collected over 5,800 items for the Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference Winter Boutique event, which was another big success thanks to the leadership of Madeleine Vadenais, our adult mentor, and Nivi Kumar, our youth committee chair.
Thank you to all our Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference youth participants and adult mentors who spent many hours to make a difference in the lives of those in need in our community in 2020. We could not have accomplished all that we did this year without the dedication and compassion of our amazing volunteers