It truly takes a village to raise a child. Government agencies are not able to meet all the needs of underserved populations because demand exceeds available government resources. Schools and government shelters can provide regular crisis intervention. However, there are too many people who face acute crises on a daily basis for government to assist them all. This is where community organizations come in. Community organizations contribute vital resources to help feed, house, and assist needy populations throughout the country.
Community organizations help feed the hungry by raising money and collecting donations to purchase food. They may also help by staffing kitchens and food centers through volunteers. Kitchen volunteers often work long hours to prepare food and serve it. Other kitchen volunteers may help by washing dishes and cleaning the food preparation areas.
Businesses often contribute to populations in need through philanthropy programs. These programs establish programs to deliver funds, services, and food to families or individuals in need. Philanthropy programs may be established to achieve long-term goals such as raising reading comprehension levels in the inner city. They may also be set up for immediate or short-term goals such as helping victims of tornados or weather-related calamities. Some businesses set up charities, or establish funding programs, to assist with goals related to their businesses. For example, a restaurant may donate food or other items to a food pantry or other community volunteer food service.
Volunteering is a vital component of community philanthropy. Often, philanthropic organizations are staffed and organized entirely by volunteers. Many such organizations have very few paid workers. Most philanthropic organizations disclose their financial information online where income, contributions, assets and salaries are listed. A quick search will reveal that very large organizations are often staffed by very few paid workers, and almost all financial donations are used to feed the poor rather than pay a salary.
A strong sense of community is important to the development of all residents. Volunteers report high satisfaction from knowing that they helped someone in need while recipients feel better just knowing that someone cares about them. The people behind the food bank counter recognize that the populations they are serving are part of their own community and feel a strong commitment to giving back. People who are receiving the food are grateful for the assistance and often come back as volunteers when they are able. In this way the giving cycle continues and makes our communities stronger and better.