Volunteering in Seattle: MLK Day’s Big Turnout

By United Way of King County, on January 16, 2018 | In Volunteering

The building is nondescript. The walls inside—bare. But the buzz of activity inside Westside Baby’s new space in South Lake Union area is what’s important. And it’s a perfect spot for volunteering in Seattle.

On United Way’s MLK Day of Service on Jan. 15, that spot saw volunteers from T-Mobile and Target check, sort and organize clothes, plus bundle boxes of diapers. Their work helped support some 40,000 vulnerable families in the community through United Way’s partner and grantee Westside Baby. And volunteers from tons of other local companies were out volunteering in Seattle in similar ways as part of this big day of compassion in MLK Jr’s legacy. Check out MLK Day in the news.

“There is a need every day for children who don’t have a safe space to sleep, who don’t have dry diapers, who don’t have shoes that fit them,” said Toni Sarge, public affairs manager at Westside Baby. “Without those things, kids can’t play outside, they can’t go to school and parents can’t go to work, so the volunteers make it happen here.”

Just how many people united on MLK Day of Service? 2,800+, all volunteering in Seattle and the greater metro area. They helped 105 organizations do whatever was needed. The 147 projects seem minor—pulling weeds, painting, prepping donated shoes and filling birthday bags for kids experiencing homelessness. But each project goes a long way in helping nonprofits best serve their clients.

Not to mention the estimated 11,400 hours of volunteer work, aka free labor, allow agencies to make the most of monetary donations in helping people in need. Efficiency, check.

United Way Champions and board members Blair Taylor and Kathy Surace-Smith (NanoString Technologies) volunteered at Jubilee Thrift Store in Bellevue.

“MLK Day, given today’s political climate, is a timely opportunity to reflect on someone who gave his life to service and to change the world,” said United Way Campaign Co-chair Angela Stowell as she thanked volunteers at Westside Baby.

“It really does take just 1, 2 or 3 people to eventually become a lot of people changing the world.”

Volunteering in Seattle = Serving Compassion

Down the street, volunteers from Starbucks began their morning at the nonprofit Redeeming Soles. They started with a meaningful discussion of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1964 Nobel acceptance speech and its relevance more than half a century later. Inspired by the late leader’s words on ending poverty, volunteers formed a line to check, clean and organize donated shoes for people experiencing homelessness. Instead of crafting coffee drinks, the volunteers served up compassion and warmed people’s souls in a different way.

Thinking it’s time to get your volunteering on? Our volunteer website is the place to start.


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