Volunteering

Volunteering with Burrito Brigade

Chicken is a Girl Scout, and one of the things Girl Scouts encourages is service to the community. One of our leaders came across Burrito Brigade and worked with them to provide a service opportunity for our girls.

Burrito Brigade has groups in both Portland and Eugene, Oregon. It is a non-profit organization focused on helping to feel the homeless through- you guessed it- burritos. Volunteers come together to prepare and wrap burritos. Once that process has been completed, groups of volunteers are assigned specific areas to distribute burritos.

We appreciated the variety of experience. Due to the age range of our troupe, we decided to forego the preparation portion of things and focus on wrapping and distributing. You are able to do that- volunteer for certain time frames related to the specific tasks.

Our older girls helped to fill and wrap the burritos, while our younger girls helped count them and place them into various containers for distribution. Over 400 burritos were made on the day we were there!

Once all the burritos were packed up, along with water bottles and small kits containing cough drops, tissues, and hand warmers, we were assigned areas for distribution. Our group was assigned the Chinatown area in Portland. I loved the agencies approach to giving. There were no limitations or conditions. If people want a burrito, give them a burrito. If they want another for themselves or someone else, give them another one. Keep giving until it’s all gone.

It was a great experience for our troupe. Members of the Burrito Brigade organization were friendly and helpful, the assigned tasks were age appropriate, and it opened the eyes of some of our girls to poverty issues in Portland. All of the girls I talked to said they enjoyed the experience and would do it again.

In general, you are able to just show up on a day that works for you (make sure to check their schedule). They do ask that larger groups contact them ahead of time so they can ensure they will be able to accommodate everyone

What it is: an accessible, fun volunteer activity for a variety of ages, service to local homeless communities

Would we recommend it? I think it’s a great way to introduce kids to volunteering. I like that you are able to sign up for the shift that fits your schedule, interests, and comfort level

You can find out more about the organization and volunteering here: https://burritobrigade.org/portland-burrito-brigade/

Their Facebook page (just search for Burrito Brigade) is probably the easiest way to find their schedule and upcoming opportunities. They were also very responsive to us through the messenger feature.

Theater, Volunteering

Volunteering at Northwest Children’s Theater

If you follow this blog at all, you know that we tend to go to a lot of theater.  One of the really cool things about Northwest Children’s Theater in particular is the multiple ways children can get involved with the theater experience- from attending plays, taking classes, Girl Scout workshops, going to theater camp, or even volunteering. We have taken advantage of most of those opportunities, but we recently gave volunteering a shot for the very first time!

Children as young as 4 are allowed to be assistant ushers or program passers (as long as an adult is with them).  Nugget has been itching to do this for a while.  There have been times we have arrived early and he has asked for jobs to do.  The staff there is so amazing, and they have given him extremely important responsibilities like making sure the bathroom lights are on and that there is toilet paper in the boys bathroom.  He took these tasks quite seriously.

This fall, we decided to do it the real way.  I signed the three of us up to be usher’s for the season opener play, How I Became a Pirate. We were told to arrive an hour prior to show time. After your first time, you are asked to arrived 40 minutes prior to the start. After some quick paperwork for the grown-ups, we were assigned our duties.

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Nugget and I were designated as program passers. Nugget’s face about broke from his excited smile. He grabbed some familiar faces (like I said, we go there a lot), to role play his job and took it all very seriously. He was a fantastic program passer.

Chicken got to be a stage guard, which meant she sat on the steps leading up onto the stage to keep curious kiddos off the stage. She was very excited. I was busy with Nugget, but apparently she tracked down the mom of a kiddo who was adamant about getting on stage. Don’t mess with my kid!

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As we waited for patrons to arrive, we were asked to help fill in missing numbers that they tape to the back of seats to make them easier to find. As this involved the use of a packaging tape dispenser, both kiddos were totally on board.

We were told that once our duties were done, we could sit anywhere there were open seats. As the show we were at didn’t happen to be overly crowded, we would up with a pretty good view! It did take us a moment to get into audience mode after coming straight from our ‘job,’ but we settled in quickly and thoroughly enjoyed the show!

Apart from the benefit of being allowed to see the show without purchasing a ticket, we were also heach given a token for a free concession to use at the next show we come to.

Northwest Children’s Theater also started a passport program this season. You earn stamps in your passport for doing different things related to attending the theater, and volunteering is one of them. There are prizes as you acquire stamps. First stamp- check! In order to acquire additional stamps, you can do things like take public transportation to a show, dress up for a show, take a class, etc. Next time you are there, take a minute to check it out!
 

What it is: fun, developmentally appropriate assigned jobs, a way to ease the financial burden of going to shows, a way for kids to feel involved and helpful

What it’s not: for kids who are painfully shy

You can sign up to volunteer here:  https://nwcts.org/usher-a-show/

You can buy tickets here:  https://nwcts.secure.force.com/ticket

Fun Gift Ideas, Volunteering

Craft + Boogie- Crafting for a cause

One of the kindest and most genuine people I know, Meghan, started an amazing business a couple of years ago- Craft and Boogie.  The idea is simple- selling craft kits for families to do together- but the impact has been huge.  For each craft kit purchased, Meghan donates a kit to children in foster care or agencies working with disadvantaged youth.

The kits themselves are adorable.  They include everything you need- from the special supplies to basics such as scissors and glue- so you can get started and successfully complete your project as soon as you open the box.  The crafts are very cute and children are able to do a lot of it independently.  The kits are a great way for kids to have fun, feel proud of their work, for you to make memories with your children, and support children in our communities.

Chicken and Nugget have done a variety of kits.  They particularly loved a 4th of July kit that used a toilet paper tube, a balloon, and decorative shredded paper (we used rice I colored with  food coloring when we ran out) to create a fun confetti popper.  We also tried out the airplane busy kit, which kept them engaged for quite a while on a past flight.  It contains several easter eggs with games, toys, or play ideas for children to open up and try out.  It’s been almost a year and they still fill up the easter eggs with ‘surprises’ for each other.  There are kits themed for holidays, birthdays, and events such as flights, weddings, camping, etc.

Another amazing aspect of Craft and Boogie is the involvement of the community in the business.  Meghan hosts incredibly fun events around the Portland area for kids and their families, complete with themed snacks and crafts.

She also invites others to help support her cause.  She hosts periodic packing parties to fill kits that will be donated.  Chicken’s Girl Scout troop volunteered earlier this year and the girls had a fantastic time.  Some of the girls even said it was their favorite thing we did as a troop this year.  Meghan made sure there were jobs that girls at each level could do successfully.

Earlier this week, I took Chicken and Nugget to another packing party.  This time the kits were to be donated to a local children’s hospital.   Meghan had a kids table set up for not only Chicken and Nugget, but other young children there as well.  She again did a great job providing them with developmentally appropriate tasks that were still useful and productive.  Adults worked to complete the rest of the tasks and we formed quite the assembly line to get all the kits filled!  Music played, snacks were eaten, crepe paper was rolled, papers were collated, and a good time was had by all.  While I would like to say that Chicken and Nugget were dedicated volunteers who awed and amazed all present with their incredible focus and work ethic, the truth is the completed a round or two of tasks and then took off playing with their friends.  And that was ok.

 

Craft and Boogie continues to grow, which means not only are families getting to do fun crafts together, but local children are learning that they are remembered and people care about them.  If that’s not a win-win, I don’t know what is!

You can find information about purchasing the kits, ways to get involved, and upcoming events here:  https://craftandboogie.com