Volunteers make a lasting impact on the community during the holidays

At United Way, we are committed to making a positive impact on the St. Louis region to help our neighbors and friends live their best possible lives.

At the heart of what we do are the generous volunteers who give their time, talent, and passion to helping our community and local nonprofits thrive. Volunteers show their support year-round, but the holiday season is a special time when they spread warmth and joy to the community in so many ways.

United Young Leaders embrace the season of giving

United Young Leaders (UYL), our young professional group launched in 2020, prioritizes professional networking and engaging young professionals in community and philanthropy. Volunteering and community service are key priorities for UYL and its members and, throughout this year, they have participated in volunteer events with the Youth and Family Center, St. Louis Senior Olympics, Doorways Housing, and others.

Earlier this month, several members of UYL spent a Saturday morning participating in The Salvation Army’s annual Angel Tree Distribution by helping sort, organize and bundle gifts for families with young children.

For one of the volunteers, making a difference and putting a smile on a child’s face was the driving force behind her reason for volunteering at the event.

“It was really amazing to see the scale of the operation and how, in just three hours, we were able to sort and bag gifts for babies, from newborns to two-year-olds,” said Sarah Lepp, a UYL committee member. “It was also inspiring to see how much work was left and how much people were dedicated to coming back and getting it all done before Christmas.”

UYL’s volunteer work has built a bond between them and the community. There’s a special connection between the volunteers and the people they serve, even if they never get to meet them in person.

“When you go to volunteer at these events, you really feel a sense of community,” said Sarah. “You may not see the people that you’re helping, but you get a sense of community in knowing that what you’re doing does make an impact.”

Tis the season with Community Christmas

The Community Christmas campaign has been lifting up the Riverbend community for the past 30 years. Each year during the holiday season, Madison County and surrounding area residents are encouraged to support people in need through monetary donations and donating essential items such as blankets, winter coats and hats, baby essentials, personal care items and more.

This year, local companies hosted drive-thru events for people to drop off some of these items, including Phillips 66. Megan Brodnax, a community affairs coordinator at Phillips 66, volunteers through the company to coordinate some of their employee efforts that support Community Christmas.

“It was very heartwarming and wonderful to see people driving up, opening their trunk, and their whole trunk is full of items that they want to give,” said Megan. “We collect and put the donations into a pile, and just seeing how big that pile is by the end of the evening just overwhelms you with joy and makes you very appreciative.”

The holidays can put an extra burden on those already struggling to make ends meet, but with Community Christmas, there’s always hope. They are determined to ensure that everyone has the chance to have a special holiday season.

Volunteers help us build a stronger community

Over the course of the past year, we have seen generosity and compassion from so many of our volunteers, people willing to lend a helping hand to someone who may be struggling. The St. Louis region needs selfless people who are willing to tackle some of our most pressing issues, and that is what we’ve seen from our volunteers. United Way has been committed to helping our neighbors in need for decades, and we are so glad that there are kind-hearted people in the community who are willing to join us in that effort.

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Rodney Humphries
Rodney Humphries

Rodney Humphries is the Communications Specialist for United Way of Greater St. Louis and a proud graduate of Webster University where he developed his passion for writing. In college, he combined his love for writing and sports, serving as the primary sports writer for his school newspaper while also developing his own sports blog. After graduating, he continued his love for writing as he served as a freelance writer for various publications. Rodney continues to be a fan of Webster athletics, you will often see him sitting courtside at a lot of their basketball games.