Earlier this month, with the holiday season in full swing, Westside Future Fund’s Volunteer Corps brought the spirit of giving to the organization’s 970 Jefferson headquarters, as they gathered for a holiday gift-wrapping extravaganza. Their collective efforts orchestrated the wrapping and distribution of hundreds of toys for children in need in Atlanta’s Historic Westside community.
Volunteers came from throughout the community, with one large group from LIIV Atlanta Church joining for what they call Second Serve Saturdays, an opportunity for their membership to support the local community through volunteerism. For Maureen, a member of the LIIV Atlanta congregation, it was an incredible opportunity to help those in need – and also learn a new skill in the process.
“Gift wrapping was uncharted territory for me, so this is a cool opportunity to learn how,” said Maureen. “It’s such a good environment to see all of these gifts and all of these people putting in this effort to ensure that children in need can celebrate the holidays the right way this season. It just feels like a blessing.”
Local business leaders and staff also came out with helping hands. Suna, an employee of Portal Innovations in Science Square located adjacent to English Avenue, saw an opportunity to help out the community she’s come to know and love.
“I wanted to come out to get more involved with the community around here and see how I can be of assistance as well as how my company can contribute. There’s a lot of need for help, and with this turnout I believe we’re actually making an impact,” said Suna. “As more and more people come out for things like this, support for this community will only get bigger and bigger. I’m happy to be here to help drive momentum in that direction.”
This year, the WFF Volunteer Corps was joined by interns from WFF’s and its community partner Integrity Home Solutions internship program. These interns, ranging from ages 11 to 21, are employed by the two organizations thanks to a grant from Georgia Natural Gas as a part of the Mayor of Atlanta’s Year of the Youth program. The program intends to keep youth under the age of 25 engaged, employed, and off of the streets while learning job skills.
Jonathan, a 16 year-old member of the current intern cohort, enjoys that his internship provides him the opportunity to give to the community in a way that leaves him fulfilled by his contributions and supports his work experience.
“I wanted to come out to help the community and make sure every kid gets a present this holiday. Being here makes me feel so much younger. I’m seeing toys I used to play with as a kid all the time,” said Jonathan. “This internship allows me to leave each day that I work knowing that I did something important, something that helps benefit the community.”
After a few hours of gift wrapping, families began to arrive to collect their gifts to go under the tree this year. Of the first to arrive were Tasha, Priscilla, and her daughter Destiny who’s sights are set on a L.O.L. Doll for Christmas this year. For Tasha, this event came at a crucial time for her and her family.
“This is a huge blessing for us. Times are a little tough right now. Christmas was going to be hard this year,” said Tasha.
This event is just one of several that WFF hosts each year to support the Westside community during the holiday season. If you or someone you know would like to get involved, please visit https://volunteer.westsidefuturefund.org/.