If you follow us on social media, you’ve probably noticed us talking about Day of Action recently. Many of you are probably wondering, what is Day of Action? Day of Action is an initiative that all United Ways worldwide participate in—it’s one of the days we go out and make a visible difference to improve our community with volunteers. This year’s Day of Action took place on Friday, June 20th at the Pavilion at Durham Central Park.
This year, our Day of Action is tied in with another initiative we have this summer at United Way of the Greater Triangle—childhood hunger. The statistics concerning chronically hungry children in the Triangle are staggering—on any given night, there are 100,000 children, or 1 in 5 kids, in the four counties we serve (Durham, Wake, Johnston, and Orange) who go to bed hungry. This led to our 100,000 Kids Hungry No More (#100KNoMore if you’re a social media follower) initiative—a push to end childhood hunger. This initiative includes other events, and it seemed only natural to us to include Day of Action in our fight against childhood hunger.
With a decided focus on childhood hunger, our plan for Day of Action began to take shape. We would make weekend meal bags for kids in need to be distributed by one of our partners, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, to children who qualify for their BackPack Buddies program. These children receive free or reduced lunches at school and may not always have enough to eat on the weekend. The purpose of the weekend meal bags is to ensure that these children are fed throughout the weekend—from Friday night through Sunday night. Now that our plan was in place, we set a lofty goal—1000 meal bags. Taking into account that each meal bag contains seven meals (Friday night’s dinner and breakfast, lunch, and dinner for Saturday and Sunday), we decided to pack 7000 meals. With the help of our other partners, Arysta LifeScience and Syngenta Biotechnology, we obtained the food we would need to fill the meal bags.
Now we just needed the man power. Our volunteers began arriving between 9:00 and 9:30 at Durham Central Park on a hot, humid, sunny day. They cheerfully helped us break down the pallets of food we received and set up an assembly line they could go through to fill the bags. Volunteers began with a plastic grocery bag to which they added the items they found on tables—oatmeal packets, spaghetti and meatballs, pears, granola bars, juice, raisins, tuna, shelf safe milk, ramen noodles, yellow corn, and green beans. They then put the grocery bag in a small reusable shopping bag along with—for 675 of the 1000 meal bags—a literacy kit containing a new book. Though we planned the event to go until 12:30, our volunteer groups from Target, Principal Financial, Arysta LifeScience, Bank of America, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, and Nationwide Insurance, along with some individual volunteers, completed all 1000 meal bags and packed the truck by 11:00!
Thanks to all of the hard work from our volunteers and some UWGT staff members, we packed 1000 meal bags to be distributed to 225 children at four Durham elementary schools for four consecutive weekends—ensuring they receive food every weekend for a month. This is what Day of Action is all about—getting out, doing work, and making a visible impact on our community.
Didn’t get to volunteer at Day of Action but want to help? You can sponsor a child’s weekend meal bag at innovateunited.org/action!