Since 2015, United Way’s Day of Service Bossier has been the largest one-day volunteer event for everyone at Bossier Parish Schools. This event emphasizes the importance of giving back to our community through volunteerism to students of all grades. In addition, Day of Service allows nonprofits to complete projects that they might not otherwise be able to due to staff availability, labor costs, or both. In 2019, Bossier Schools’ volunteers completed projects that saved participating nonprofits more than $23k in labor costs.
United Way of Northwest Louisiana and Bossier Schools banded together to coordinate a month-long, socially-distanced alternative to our normal event, due to the challenges of COVID-19. Local nonprofits submitted lists of items they have identified as essential to their organization and the people they serve. Volunteer team captains reviewed the lists and requested to be paired with the local nonprofit of their choice. Once paired, team captains were armed with informative resources about their nonprofit to share with parents and students. It was off to the races as teams of students, staff departments, and individuals collected items for their nonprofit throughout the month of October.
Adleigh Junkin, was one of two students from Elm Grove Middle who participated in a small group delivery of their team’s collections for Community Renewal. “Being a member of the Elm Grove Pride Line, we always strive to be the light in someone’s day that you wish you had in yours,” she said. “The opportunity of delivering a donation to the Friendship House reinforced how you never know what someone else is going through and how a small act of kindness can go a long way.” The Elm Grove Prideline student representatives and their team captain, Courtney Feliciano, were given a short tour of one of the Barksdale Annex Friendship Houses and got to see Community Renewal’s work up close.
Fourteen nonprofits were paired with 24 volunteer teams. The outcome of one month of service was breathtaking. Over 10,000 essential items valued at more than $16,000 in economic support were collected. Many team members also volunteered at home, through writing or drawing notes of encouragement for nonprofit clients and cleaning up Bossier neighborhoods to support Keep Bossier Beautiful.
The impact for organizations is astonishing, as is the lasting impact on young volunteers. When asked what participating in Month of Service meant to them, elementary school students from Waller Elementary School felt it meant the chance to help others, spread joy and happiness, and to show kindness to others.