I had the amazing opportunity to volunteer with United Way to help make school readiness kits for daycare centers and nonprofits around Washington County on Thursday, September 29th. Each kit included a set of alphabet flash cards, two matching games, a My Plate, a pencil box with pencils, crayons and a book mark, 2 story books, a packet of resources for parents and handwritten note of encouragement from a volunteer.
I worked on the assembly lines with all sorts of people from different places around Washington County. I was only there for a two hour period, but I saw over 12 different companies and institutions participating in the event! The YMCA, the West Bend School District, the Slinger School District, AT&T, Moraine Park Technical College, Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, Aurora Health Care Center, R&R insurance, and Kettle Moraine are only a few of those who participated.
Each business had a group of employees who went through the lines making school readiness kits. The stacks of bags and boxes were wall to wall and floor to ceiling before the truck even arrived!
In the end we packaged about 2,100 kits. There were so many people there and it was such a fun time! I didn’t actually go through the assembly lines, I helped manage them, but I caught wind of some friendly competition of who could go through the line the most times in the least amount of time. Along with the pop songs playing in the background of the warehouse, it was such a happy place to be. I was so glad that I went and met so many new people helping out our community!
I met a lot of new faces that are associated with the Volunteer Center, including an avid family volunteer, Al Jung. He spoke passionately about volunteering and how it brings his family together. He talked about how it was such a positive experience, and how nothing negative comes out of volunteering. Even if it’s something completely different from what we did that Thursday.
The United Way has a focus for their kickoff event every year, Al Jung said. Before, they would package food for people in need. Personally, to see as many school readiness kits packed as I did, I can only imagine how much food could be packaged in the same amount of time.
Because of this night, thousands of kids will have more opportunities for learning than before. Thousands of kids. Statistically that is most likely someone’s kid that you know. Or it could even be one of your kids. Even if it isn’t someone you know, it could be someone that cures cancer one day. Or invents something so amazing it is beyond description. By making these kits and giving these kids an opportunity to learn, they are more likely not to end up in a bad situation. All it takes is a little bit of time from some kind-hearted people.
Some like to think that volunteering is a waste of time. I’ll be honest, I thought the same way for a while. Then I actually did it. Without being forced to. I had a blast, and I was overwhelmed with how much two hours really did, and how little time that actually was. Everyone I talked to there, including Barb Beck from the First Bank Financial Center and Robyn Erickson from Glacier Hills Credit Union had a fantastic time and not one person left with a sour face. And because they came with their coworkers, “it really brought them together,” said Robyn after the event. She and the Glacier Hills Credit Union have been doing this for years through the United Way.
I guess what I’m really trying to say is that this experience was a greatly positive influence on my life and for those of whom the kits will go to. It didn’t take much time, and I had a blast doing it and helping with my community.
I hope to see you at the next event!
Al Jung helping a volunteer with a pencil box.