Community Helping Community

Last week, Howard Tech had an opportunity to volunteer in-person at one of the Columbia Community Cares (CCC) sites in Howard County. Our office has been collecting items and donating them to this local group on an ongoing basis. However, this was the first visit to volunteer our time. There is always a need for helpers. CCC is a grassroots organization that was created to support those struggling during the COVID crisis. CCC is managed by a growing number of volunteers and supported by donations from businesses, organizations, and individuals. Since their start in March 2020, they have now officially become a non-profit organization and have several main distribution and collection sites.

Volunteering in-person was a humbling experience. Watching and accepting the kindness of others. Those who came to help. Those who came to receive. All are welcomed. There is no identification or proof of ‘need’ required. The ongoing drop-off and drive-by car load donations of food, toiletries, fresh produce and celebration bags for children was amazing! This rejuvenated and reminded me that goodness surrounds us; as evident by the many volunteers who come each session (weekly on Wednesdays and Saturdays) and greet repeat visitors by name. It was an organized production, once you got the hang of it, and all run by volunteers. We each had jobs to do – keeping the donation tables stocked with items, socially spacing the guests in line, ensuring correct allocation of items by guests, collecting trash items, and breaking down recyclable boxes.

Donation tables at the beginning of the event and after the last guest.

After several hours of constant refilling food and supplies, there was not much left but 3 -4 small boxes of canned foods. It was hard to keep up with the hustle, we were busy the whole time! I took pictures of the donation table areas before and after, showing the continued need for donations. It was overwhelmingly physical and emotional to participate, but profoundly fulfilling as well.

This experience encourages me to engage others to give – their donations, their volunteer time, their money for gift cards, holiday toys, or organizational items – to this worthy cause. It is the season of giving, if you can manage something – whether to CCC or another local organization that serves others. No matter how big or small. The rewards are amazing. It really does take an entire village to support our community in need!