BENEFITING: VOLUNTEERS OF AMERICA - GREATER NEW YORK
THE HOPE & HEARTH HOLIDAY FOOD VOUCHER CAMPAIGN HAS HELPED FEED THE HUNGRY FOR OVER 100 YEARS.
GIFTS OF THE HEART IS ANOTHER WAY TO ENSURE THOSE IN NEED ARE NOT FORGOTTEN DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON!
Since 1896, Volunteers of America has been ensuring hungry men, women and children are not forgotten during the holidays. Originally, Volunteers of America co-founder Maud Booth, would load up wagons with baskets brimming with all the traditional holiday food - turkey, potatoes, stuffing, relish, peas, pie, and milk for the children. She and her wealthy friends and hundreds of volunteers would deliver thousands of baskets to the poor.
For decades this tradition continued, with money raised to fund the program collected by Volunteers of America's trademarked Sidewalk Santas ringing their bells, inviting passersby to drop money into their red "brick" chimneys to help their neighbors in need.
Eventually, baskets of food were replaced by food vouchers that could be used to purchase food in supermarkets with which Volunteers of America had established agreements that they would accept the vouchers.
While the Sidewalk Santa tradition was a colorful one, it was inefficient and we found that we could raise more money, lower the cost to administer the program and therefore send many more food vouchers out, by asking friends and family, companies and other concerned community partners, to help fund the program.
We also recognized that people have dietary restrictions for medical, religious or other reasons, and giving them the opportunity to select and prepare a holiday meal special to them, was the most respectful thing we could do. This is consistent with our belief that it is important to allow people to experience as normal a life as they can, in spite of their circumstances.
The New Yorkers in need who receive food vouchers are referred by case managers in Volunteers of America programs and include the frail elderly and veterans on limited incomes and homeless families residing in our shelters. These vouchers – veritable “food gift cards” – allow the recipient to purchase and prepare a meal that is special to them, rather than having to rely on a food pantry or soup kitchen for their holiday meal.
The number of food vouchers we distribute is solely based on the amount of private money we raise. Each food voucher is worth $25 and can only be used to purchase food. We often give families several food vouchers.
In the spirit of giving we invite you to share some of your bounty with those less fortunate. Visit SidewalkSantaNYC.org to learn about the colorful tradition of Sidewalk Santa, and make a donation here, on CrowdRise, to the Hope & Hearth holiday food voucher program.
For other ways to help those in need, consider supporting Toys for the Holidays and Burt and Barbara's Gifts of the Heart to ensure the children and older adults in our care receive a gift for the holidays. We are also launching a Hat, Scarves & Gloves drive, to benefit more than 700 homeless men living in VOA's shelters.
Plus, if you can, a great way to learn about all of Volunteers of America's programs, while supporting us in a bigger way financially, is to come to our 19th annual gala, A New York Winter's Eve on December 8. To learn more, please visit A New York Winter's Eve 2014.
As always, thank you for caring about our neighbors in need and for supporting the work of Volunteers of America.
If interested in sponsoring or helping to underwrite any of our programs, please contact Rachel Weinstein, VP/Chief Development & Communications Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 496-4311.