A few weeks ago, the folks at Target called on the members of the Target Inner Circle to give back to their communities as part of Target’s FEED USA initiative. One of the things we’ve always admired about the Target brand is commitment to giving back to the community and those in need. Their new FEED USA line does just that. Each item in the FEED line has a number printed on it which represents the number of meals that Target will sponsor with the proceeds from that purchase. These meals will feed families all across America who are in need. So, if you buy this cool messenger bag, you’re giving a total of 24 meals. Pretty cool idea, right?
While playing around with a few ideas of how Ash and I could give back in our local area, we got to talking about why we don’t physically give back to the community more often. I say “physically” because we do regularly support area charities financially (such as Rebuilding Together Richmond), and we donate things we don’t need/want anymore to places like Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity fairly often as well. Though, we rarely get involved by volunteering our time. But why? Most of the time, it comes down to one simple fact: we just don’t know where to start. By the time we get anything figured out, we don’t have enough time to actually do what we set out to do. Which got us thinking… with people having ultra-busy schedules these days, we wonder if people (including ourselves) would volunteer more and be able to carve out more time for volunteering if the information were easily accessible and already figured out for them.
On top of getting ourselves organized for volunteering more regularly, we also wanted to try to inspire others to get involved as well. We ended up deciding to put together what we call “Starter Envelopes”. Inside each envelope is a short letter along with a sheet with all the information people in the Richmond area would need in order to start volunteering.
We included information for four organizations in the Richmond area currently needing volunteers and donations. We designed it so it would be a single sheet – easy to hang on the fridge or stick in a family binder. We printed off 100 sheets and put them in brown envelopes with a label Ash designed for the outside.
We gathered all of our assembled Starter Envelopes, stashed them in Ash’s Feed Market Bag, put Bentley on his leash and set our for a family walk around the neighborhood. Because it’s illegal to put non-mail material in mailboxes, we decided to place our envelopes on our neighbors’ front porches (Ashley carried along a roll of paper tape for houses with glass storm doors). We also went a step further and hung a Starter Sheet on a few community bulletin boards in the area (there’s one at our grocery store, the local auto repair place and our favorite BBQ joint).
Now that we’ve spread the word, it’s time to swing into action. This weekend, we’re going to be volunteering at the Central Virginia Food Bank (one of the places on the Starter Sheet) and donating 50 cans of beans (their website says they’re in urgent need of canned beans and meat). We’re really excited about volunteering and making it a monthly to-do around our house.
We’re not trying to “toot our own horn” or make ourselves feel better by posting about this. We just want to spread the inspiration that Target Inner Circle gave us to do something for the community in a way we haven’t done before. We really hope you’ll be inspired and give back along with your friends, family, pets, accountants, teachers, pool guys, mail people… yeah, you get the idea.
Click the image above to download your own Starter Sheets and envelope labels to hand out in your own community. For you out-of-towners, we also included a fill-in-the-blank version. To make the labels, we suggest printing them on 8.5″ x 11″ full-sheet shipping labels (like these) and cutting them out individually. To find volunteer opportunities near you, here are some helpful online sources: Volunteer Match, United We Serve and Hands on Network.