Volunteers are a critical part of our organization and are at the heart of much of our work. In any given month, dozens of community members donate hundreds of hours of their time to divert good food from the landfill, sort through donated clothes and groceries, and make sure that our services embody our mission to offer abundance, solidarity, and a dignified, healing space to our participants. When we say ‘neighbors helping neighbors,’ this is it.
We have daily openings in a variety of roles at the Clothes Closet and in our Northfield and Faribault food access locations, and seasonal need for special programs like Operation Joy.
volunteers gave close to 25,000 hours of their valuable time in 2021 to CAC!
Every week, hundreds of your neighbors across Rice County depend on the Community Action Center’s food access locations for their food and other resources. Your donations can make a real difference in the lives of community members.
There are lots of ways to contribute to the food shelf whether you are able to volunteer your time, donate food or money, host a food drive, or assemble care bags for the community.
Here are ways you can help:
• Dried beans (black and pinto)
• Canned meat & fish
• Nut butters
• Shelf stable non-dairy milk
• Other plant-based proteins
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
• Canned peppers (jalapeños, chipotles)
• Canned hominy, mushrooms, nopalitos
• Other dried, fresh, or frozen veg
• Homegrown food should be clean and bagged or boxed for donation
• Masa harina
• Whole grains
COOKING & BAKING
• Paper or reusable grocery bags, in good condition only and no plastic please
• Menstrual products
• Diapers, especially sizes 5, 6, 7
• Baby wipes
• Personal care items, including shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, body wash
• Household items, including paper towels, toilet paper, dish soap, laundry soap, cleaning products
Here are the tips to putting together a successful drive:
1. Host a ‘virtual food drive’ to make the greatest impact. Collecting food can be very satisfying, but dollar-for-dollar, monetary donations to our food program will make the biggest difference. The CAC can help organize an easy virtual drive with QR codes, branding, and communications that will give your team a goal and produce a measurable impact, whether it’s instead of or alongside an in-person collection. Reach out to gro.retnecnoitcaytinummoc@snoitanod to set one up.
2. Familiarize yourself with our Most Wanted Categories. Learn which items are most sought after by families and hardest for us to keep in supply.
3. Consider a themed food drive to focus your effort. It can be helpful to collect many donations of the same kind; this enables us to keep an item in stock and provide broad access to many participants. For example, you might focus on baking products, breakfast foods, diapers, menstrual products, cooking oil, etc.
4. Pick a duration and start collecting. Most food drives last 2-4 weeks, but you can choose a length that works for you.
5. Organize a drop-off of your donations at the food shelf. Please plan to deliver your donations to the CAC in person at the conclusion of your drive. You can do this during our normal donation hours, which are 9AM-4PM Monday-Friday at either our Northfield or our Faribault location. Deliveries are easier for us to intake and process earlier in the day, and you only need to call or email ahead with especially large donations.
6. Don’t forget to tell the story of your drive! It’s important to connect your participants with the impact of their efforts. CAC will weigh your food donations and tally your monetary donations so you know exactly how much you’ve contributed to the wellbeing of your neighbors. With advance notice, we’re also happy to arrange a tour of your local food shelf for your group
Sourcing, assembling, and donating different care bags can be a great project for student and community groups. These bags are kept at the food shelves and resource centers and given out to participants by request. Here are some suggestions, though you’re welcome to add a personal touch.
Provide Families with an easy celebration-in-a-bag for a child’s birthday. Get creative by using decorative party bags, adding party favors, or giving each bag a different theme (like cartoon characters, sports, boy/girl, etc.).
• Boxed cake mix, Shelf-stable frosting, Candles
• Festive paper plates & napkins
These are used for supplementary meals including afternoon snacks. We request your donation include or focus on reasonably healthy options.
• Juice Box/beverage
• Chips or pretzels
• Granola bar
• Fruit snacks or dried fruit
Intended for community members in crisis who need help meeting basic needs for personal care. They can be put into plastic bags or toiletry bags.
• Toothbrush and Toothpaste
• Comb or Brush
• Band-Aids & Sanitizing Wipes
• Small Bottled Water
• Emergency Thermal Blanket
CAC’s vitality depends on the community — from volunteers to donations to program-specific support — so that we can continue to meet our neighbors’ basic needs.