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United Way of Greater Atlanta holds ‘HoliDAY of Service’ event at nine different sites across region, 300-plus people served

United Way volunteers stretched along the inside wall of a private event area at Monday Night Garage on the West End of Atlanta on Saturday, Dec. 1.

These volunteers were dressed in festive green and red “Live United” T-shirts with a “HoliDAY of Service” logo scribed across the back of the shirt. This was a celebration for an event that saw more than 200 volunteers at nine different sites across the Greater Atlanta region on that Saturday morning.

Volunteers for the HoliDAY of Service made a difference in the lives of 300 children and families for the holidays. The event was a collaboration between United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Young Professional Leaders and Lead, Impact, Network, Change affinity groups. Click here to view photos.

There were various ways for people to volunteer at each of the sites.

Emily Wheeler, the chair for the Young Professionals Network for the Georgia Association of REALTORS, spent her time during the day of service playing games with young children. There were arts and crafts, face-painting and games in a gym for the children to play, Wheeler says.

“We just spent our time engaging with the students,” Wheeler said. “We built bridges for them out of popsicle sticks and we played with them. This was my first time doing something like this.”

In Clayton County, children gathered in a back room at the Hearts to Nourish Hope building. Kids played games with volunteers — a young boy tossed an inflatable candy cane with a bean bag attached to its base into a makeshift cornhole board — and other volunteers arranged icing and sprinkles on Christmas sugar cookies.

The kids and their families were set to receive gifts of new laptops, which is part of the Kids Home Tech Up Initiative.

“We’ve got people coming in today and getting their laptops, as well as food boxes,” Tyra Barrett, who was partnering with United Way through AmeriCorps, said Dec. 1. “They get to come in and get their laptops, try them out and they can eat and talk with volunteers.”

Deja Richards, a Georgia State graduate student, was working as a project manager for the event. In all, the group handed out 15 laptops to families — they also raffled off household items, food boxes and one family got to take home an additional laptop. The initiative also gives families internet access, which helps them in applying for jobs, completing homework and just other daily needs for the technology.

“We partnered with YPL and LINC today to have them engage with these families,” Richards said.

Amy Barrow, director of the Kids Home Initiative, said Tech Up was made possible through funds provided by YPL. She said YPL is responsible for the match to the Siemer Institute, which is the largest KHI funder.

“That allows us to operate in Clayton County,” Barrow said. “So, Tech Up funds got to support families in Clayton to make their gift and involvement come full circle.”

United Way assists families in enrolling with Comcast Internet Essentials or AT&T Access. Both programs offer internet at $10 a month for families that meet certain income standards, Barrow says.

Cedric Forbes worked at the HoliDAY of Service with an organization called, “Free Bikes 4 Kidz,” a nonprofit organization that refurbishes bikes that they then hand out to children.

“We refurbished the bikes, put on tires and made sure the pedals were put on correctly,” Forbes said.

According to fb4katl.org, as of Dec. 3, more than 500 bikes were donated and ready for Dec. 8, which is when the bikes will be delivered. Jennifer Grove, a YPL chair who was participating in her fifth HoliDAY of Service, said the bikes would be handed out to six different groups.

Forbes moved to Atlanta after serving a United Way in upstate New York. He was impressed with the scale of the event considering all of the moving parts.

“We had a small YPL group, [in New York],” Forbes said. “It was amazing how different things were. Most of our events were more organic, and not as large-scale as this.
“This is amazing.”

To get involved and volunteer at events like HoliDAY of Service, learn more here. And to get involved with groups like YPL or LINC, learn more here.

Bradley Roberts is a Content Manager at United Way of Greater Atlanta.

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