As in past years, The MENTOR Network and its partners are celebrating the holidays by giving back to their communities. Programs across the country have reached out to provide food, gifts and a helping hand to make the season brighter.
“Our employees and the individuals we support have an extraordinary spirit of giving. Their passion for service at this time of year enables people in need to feel supported and included in the holiday season. Thanks to all who have given their time and energy to serve others this year,” said Bruce Nardella, President and CEO of The MENTOR Network.
Over the past several weeks, staff and individuals served by The Network and its partners have organized food drives, donated toys, served meals and created gift boxes for elders. Here are just a few of the ways we have found to share the holidays with the communities in which we live and work.
Florida MENTOR’s Tampa office partnered with Metropolitan Ministries, which provides food, housing and other services to families experiencing poverty and homelessness, and collected food and toys for families in the Tampa Bay area.
Individuals served by the Curry Day Program made holiday gift boxes for elders who live in assisted living facilities and do not have family. The boxes included socks, candy, homemade cards and ornaments, and hand-painted items such as pine cones. The individuals supported by the program made many of the items that were included in the boxes. They also sang carols for the elders when they delivered the boxes.
Staff and participants in Iowa City, Iowa baked holiday goods to deliver to a local shelter for people experiencing homelessness.
Staff and participants in DeWitt, Iowa selected names from a Salvation Army gift tree to purchase gifts for community members in need.
Participants and staff in Sioux City, Iowa volunteered at a local animal shelter to assist with a holiday fundraising event.
Participants in Stow, Ohio made blankets as part of Project Linus and donated them to a local children’s hospital.
New Jersey MENTOR and REM New Jersey
The Mount Laurel office collected Christmas gifts for two families in the community who are in need, including gift cards to help the families purchase needed items. The office also collected non-perishable foods for the Maple Shade Food Bank.
The Somerset office set up a Toys for Tots box to collect gifts for children in need and also collected donations of money.
Staff continued their annual tradition of organizing a gift tree for children in Ohio MENTOR’s Cleveland and Youngstown Therapeutic Foster Care programs. The project is a partnership with Mastro’s The 3 Spot restaurant in North Royalton, Ohio. The tree was set up in the restaurant so that community members could donate gifts.
For the third holiday season in a row, staff and individuals served by REM Iowa participated in a community Thanksgiving dinner held by Victory Center Rescue Mission, a nonprofit organization in Clinton, Iowa that provides shelter and other services for people experiencing homelessness. This year, individuals from programs operated by REM Iowa created decorative centerpieces for the tables and helped serve the meal to the community.
Staff in the Mount Pleasant office organized a gift tree and also collected food donations for an individual in need in the community.
On December 15, staff provided cookies and supplies and worked a cookie decorating station at the Winter Wonderland celebration held by Families Helping Families of Iowa in Cedar Rapids. The event provides children in foster care with gifts, a visit from Santa, as well as activities and holiday refreshments. In recent years, Families Helping Families of Iowa has received Community Partner grants from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation.
REM Ohio’s state office in Akron collected canned food for a local food bank.
REM Wisconsin’s Chippewa Falls office served as a local donation drop site for Toys for Tots. Staff in the office also set up a gift tree in partnership with Spirit of Christmas, which delivers toys to children in need in Chippewa County.
South Carolina MENTOR
Staff in South Carolina MENTOR’s Columbia office continued their annual tradition of partnering with Families Helping Families, which provides families in need with food, clothing and Christmas gifts during the holiday season. The staff sponsored a family and an elder in the community.
The MENTOR Network Adult Day Health Services
In November, Aging Well Adult Day Health Center in Marlborough, Massachusetts held a holiday food drive and donated the items to the Marlborough Food Pantry. The center also raised money so that participants could buy holiday gifts for Toys for Tots. They delivered the gifts to the Marlborough Police Department along with homemade cookies for the police officers.
Staff and participants at Living Well Adult Day Health Center in West Boylston, Massachusetts held a Thanksgiving food drive and donated the collected items to the Friendly House community center in Worcester.
Participants at Renaissance Adult Day Health Center in Worcester, Massachusetts knitted 100 scarves and hats and donated them to Abby’s House, a non-profit organization that provides shelter, housing and other support to women experiencing homelessness and other challenges.
The MENTOR Network’s Corporate Office
For Thanksgiving, The MENTOR Network provided gift cards to employees in Panama City, Florida who were significantly impacted by Hurricane Michael. For the 20th year, The Network’s Boston office also organized a gift tree so that employees could purchase Christmas gifts for children served by Massachusetts MENTOR.
Learn more about how The MENTOR Network and its partners give back to our communities through volunteer work and philanthropy.