McKinney February 2022

raising the bar

Volunteers with Community Lifeline Center in 2021 distributed a larger amount of food than they did in 2020 with nearly the same number of volunteers but nearly 500 more hours of labor.

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I think that fromwhat I’ve seen, most organizations are expanding their services,” Ortega said. Due to the growth in the region, those behind North Texas Giving Day are optimistic it can continue to grow in the years to come, Direc- tor of Community Engagement Chris McSwain said. The online event is organized by the Communities Foundation of Texas. It has grown its pledged dona- tion total each year since it began in 2009, McSwain said. “[North Texas Giving Day] really was developed to be a tool for our donors to have a database to find nonprofits,” she said. “We had no idea back then that it would grow into a movement.” The 13th annual North Texas Giving Day last September raised about $66 million, and nearly 23,000 volunteers signed up to help area nonprofits. “[2020] was tough, but 2021 has pre- sented a new kind of tough,” she said. “There are a lot of groups who are ... getting smart and innovative with the way that they’re telling their true, authentic stories about what they need, and people are responding.” A new resource Residents of McKinney and sur- rounding areas will soon be able to “dine with dignity” for free with no questions asked. Community Garden Kitchen, the nearly 4,800-square-foot facility at 501 Howard St., has been about six years in the making, board member Cindy Solomon said. She said she expects the new soup kitchen to open by March, with a goal to serve as many as 200 guests a night. The new facility will be entirely run by volunteers, with the only paid contributor being the chef, Solo- mon said. As the board has recruited

individuals, she said volunteers have been readily available. Solomon also expects that more vol- unteers—namely seniors—will pitch in if COVID-19 transmission in the area begins to significantly wane. “I would say that it’s been rela- tively easy [finding volunteers],” Solomon said. “COVID[-19] has defi- nitely had an impact because, as you would expect, there are a lot of retir- ees that want to help.” Volunteer McKinney has seen similar responsiveness in nonprof- its it coordinates with, according to Ortega. In 2021, the number of responses to nonprofit needs from volunteers exceeded pre-pandemic numbers in 2019, according to Volun- teer McKinney data. “I think you either have those ded- icated volunteers who are going to be stepping up in bigger ways for you because they see the need and they want to help,” Ortega said. Word of mouth will have a signif- icant effect on the volunteer base, Solomon believes. Solomon and her husband were recently shopping at a WinCo grocery store in McKinney when they asked an employee what the store does with unsold products. When they shared plans about Community Garden Kitchen, Solomon said the employee asked how she could get involved. “Once somebody comes up and serves, and is able to relay that expe- rience to their friends and neighbors, I think that we will have more people that will be volunteering to come,” Solomon said. “You’ll start to talk about this with people, and they’ll say ‘Where do I sign up?’”

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