Many businesses help to financially support various charitable causes, and their employees get involved in volunteering for those important organizations to help the people of our city – especially during the holidays. Thank goodness for the giving spirit of these companies and the people who work for them!
For the past three years, our company Home Tax Solutions (HTS), has volunteered at the Jewish Family Service (JFS) Food Pantry. To honor his parent’s support of the JFS Food Bank, one of our HTS’s advisors established an endowed fund to provide funding for the Food Bank. What started out as a one-time volunteer day, quickly transpired to an annual Thanksgiving Day of appreciation for our firm. What we love about JFS is their total disregard of religion, class, color, creed – to only focus on those in need in Dallas. Our HTS culture circles around this foundation and is in line with the philosophy of the JFS – improving the community, one individual at a time.
HTS is an example of one out of more than 65,000 businesses in Dallas that helps support our city’s non-profits. JFS is just one out of more than 11,000 registered public charities in Dallas. Imagine the good work that is being done to support our charities by our city’s businesses and their employees!
This is how our day of volunteering went at JFS. Due to the current pandemic, our jobs were different this year. In past years, most of us were in the back, unpacking goods, and stocking shelves, and we didn’t interact with the “shoppers” (as they are affectionately referred). It was backbreaking work – lifting boxes and being on our feet for hours – but we loved every second. This year, HTS and other corporate volunteers were working in teams outside loading groceries into shoppers’ cars, so we were able to interact with every driver.
I helped interview each client to determine the number of families they were collecting for, and was able to hear some of their stories, albeit through masks and gloves. The range of clients was so diverse, and truly made me realize that this pandemic has affected EVERY SINGLE PERSON. It knows no boundaries and is not prejudiced to the type of person it hits.
JFS is a partner agency of the North Texas Food Bank which has brought in the pre-boxed items on a weekly basis since May 2020. They also get donations and/or discounted items from corporate partners like Walmart, Costco and Aldi. JFS also works closely with Hope Supply Co. to provide diapers and wipes, but most of the items are donated by individuals in the community.
One thing I noticed that was different from past years was the one item we ran out of quickly – diapers. When asking Jewish Family Service for more, they said they typically run out within the first 1.5 hours of their weekly, three-hour distributions due to high demand. Particularly the larger size diapers are requested, along with adult diapers, too.
In an effort to meet that need, The Food Pantry merged their Annual High Holiday Drive with their 10th Annual Diaper Shower. Even with a weekly supply of 6,000 diapers to distribute, they anticipate that they need about 15,000 diapers in various sizes every week to meet the people’s needs, so they are requesting cash donations or for Dallasites to purchase diapers through Amazon’s Wish List which will be sent directly to the Food Pantry. The Food Pantry supplies more than just food.
During our shift, another volunteer from the PLAN Clubhouse, a program of Jewish Family Service, arrived with bouquets of fresh flowers donated by Trader Joes. The PLAN Clubhouse is a place for those with severe and persistent mental illness to learn new skills and build relationships in a nurturing environment. One of their projects they are mastering is flower arranging, which is where the Trader Joe’s donations come in. Each carload of families received a special bouquet of flowers.
Everyone we met was so appreciative of the assistance they were being provided. But the biggest smiles we received were when we handed out flowers. I think for just those 5 seconds, they forgot about the turmoil around them. My favorite was a man who exclaimed, “I haven’t been able to bring flowers home to my wife in a year. These are going to make her so happy! Thank you!” And I don’t think I’ll ever take another rose for granted again. Thorns and all.
By Michela D’Andrea
A Dallas resident, Michela has volunteered at JFS for the past three years since starting at HTS and is executive assistant and office manager.