Opportunities To Give Back During The Thanksgiving Holiday

This week, Thanksgiving is upon us and many of us are preparing to leave town to enjoy the holiday with family, while others may be putting the finishing touches on their menus in anticipation of hosting the feast for the first (or fifth) time. Between curling up and watching football, and braving the crowds to score a Black Friday deal, we will pause to recognize all we have to be thankful for.

Not everyone in the Twin Cities is fortunate enough to have an abundance of food, or food at all, this holiday season, but for those of us who do, it’s a great time to give back. There are an abundance of volunteer opportunities available.  One of the ways the Junior League of Minneapolis works to address the achievement gap is by providing food to children through the Backpack Buddies program, since it is easier to focus on learning when not focusing on being hungry.  If you are still looking for a way to give back this week, and help families in the process, the options below are just a sampling of opportunities available to help provide food for families in need:

Neighbors, Inc. Holiday Volunteers

Neighbors, Inc. provides emergency assistance programs to low-income families in and around St. Paul. They have a list of food items you can donate, and are also looking for volunteers for holiday-related tasks.

NorthPoint Health and Wellness Thanksgiving Food Delivery, Minneapolis

NorthPoint is seeking volunteers to help distribute frozen turkeys and side dishes to families in north Minneapolis.

If you would like to negate a few of those Thanksgiving calories, here are some charitable races that focus on collecting food for people in need:

Turkey Day 5K – Lifetime

Participants in this downtown Minneapolis 5k are asked to bring as many non-perishable items as they can carry to help stock local food pantries.

Fast Before the Feast Race

Run the 5K, 10K or Fun Run (1/2 mile) in White Bear Lake to help them meet their goal of raising 10,000 lbs of food for the community this year.

Happy Holidays!

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Project Development Reflects On Generation Next

The Junior League of Minneapolis’ (JLM) Project Development committee (PD) is tasked with developing ideas for future League projects that aim to eliminate many of the underlying causes of the achievement gap. We took time at our October committee meeting to reflect on Mayor R.T. Rybak’s comments from the September JLM General Membership Meeting on how Generation Next, a coalition of civic, business and education leaders, which aims to close the achievement and opportunity gaps for students of color in the Twin Cities, also working toward this goal. We had a lot of thoughts around how the work the League is currently doing and how the new projects PD is brainstorming align with Generation Next’s goals.
The committee took away that our current League projects strongly align with Generation Next’s goals of: 1) Kindergarten Readiness, 2) 3rd grade literary achievement and 3) 100% High School Graduation. We felt that a project like Backpack Buddies sets kids up for success, as it’s hard to focus on reading or math when you’re hungry. Between The Lines encourages reading and promotes a love for books. While, H.O.M.E.S. emphasizes math and science while engaging families in creating learning environments in the home.
Our team then considered where the League could still do more work and brainstormed several ideas and questions:

  • What if we tried to have additional literacy projects that have a broader reach? Perhaps we could create a program that could reach out to parents and equip them with the tools to prepare their children for kindergarten?
  • Should we try to further address another goal like improving graduation rates?

And we had some broader thoughts about the nature of PD’s work:

  • How do we even begin to study what the problem might be in order to see how we could fit into the solution?
  • When we identify a community need, how do we create engaging and meaningful JLM shifts around it?

These are the types of ideas and questions that the PD group is asking. We plan to use this connection with Generation Next to help us make guided decisions to maximize the fantastic resources our organization shepherds each year.

Election 2014: Voter Resources

Minnesota Public Radio’s Select a Candidate Tool enables voters to learn which candidates are aligned with their views.

The Voting Information Project tool enables voters to determine their polling place, voter information and ballot issues.