Volunteering at LHR: Our Good Bad Problem

For those who are trying to volunteer at Loudoun Hunger Relief, we’re sure you’ve noticed that we have a “good bad” problem. We have so many people who want to volunteer that our current shifts and opportunities can’t accommodate everyone. And it’s frustrating for you and for us!

We really hate to turn volunteers away. No kidding—it makes us wring our hands. But we must maintain a safe and efficient space for everyone. Here’s a breakdown of the challenges and what we’re doing about them, as well as a short list of actions to take if you want to volunteer.

Challenges:
Adults
Our community is so generous and caring! We have more people who want to help than we can hold. Our working space at the pantry is too small to fit more than 20 people at a time—any more than that and we are literally tripping over one another. For safety and efficiency, we have to limit the number of people who can be here at any given time. Please be patient if you are on our volunteer waitlist—and watch for opportunities to substitute when someone who is scheduled to work can’t make it.

Teens
Many students over the course of each year need service hours. We want to help you help others! To have the best chance of performing service hours with us, we ask that students please plan ahead. We have several group events each year specifically for teens, so watch the website and our Facebook page for those announcements. If you wait until the week you need the hours, it’s very unlikely that we’ll be able to help you.

Families
As much as we would love to see families volunteering together, we are basically a warehouse with all the safety hazards and industrial equipment that implies. Small children are simply not safe in our space, even when closely supervised by an adult. We’re sorry that we aren’t able to allow children under 14 to volunteer. Young people 14-15 are able to volunteer in the company of a parent or guardian, pending available volunteer openings. Teens 16 and older can volunteer with parental consent.

What we’re doing:
Ongoing Opportunities for Adults
We’re looking for new ways to open up volunteer opportunities and shifts. For example, coming in the fall of 2019, we’ll have shifts available to help load and staff our new mobile pantry vehicle as it makes trips out in the community we serve. We are often looking for volunteer ambassadors to help our small staff keep up with all the community events we’d like to attend, and represent LHR at third party food drives or fundraising efforts being held to benefit the hungry in our community. There may also be some additional driving/food pick up openings in the coming months. Keep your eyes open for those opportunities as they are posted to our volunteer calendar.

Teens
LHR is scheduling more Teen Service Days. We’ll announce these on our website and our Facebook page. Space will still be limited, so please bear with us. And we can’t stress it enough: if you need service hours, don’t wait until they are due! Plan a few months ahead.

Families
We are working to find ways to provide more Family Service Days that are both safe and fun. We’ll announce these on our website and our Facebook page. We also offer ways for families to volunteer outside the pantry by collecting food or working as a family to donate food. We know that’s not quite the service experience that parents often want their children to have, but it is truly helpful to our neighbors in need.

What to do if you want to volunteer:

  • Register on our volunteer site.
  • Once you have heard from us that your volunteer application is approved, watch for openings and opportunities to substitute.
  • If you need service hours, work on it WAY before they are due.
  • Watch our website and Facebook page for special Teen and Family Service Days.
  • If you can’t come into the pantry to volunteer, do a Food Drive! Here’s a link to sign up.