Meet the volunteers behind 100 Neediest Cases
Each year, people across the region adopt individuals and families in need, purchasing essential items and gifts to make their holidays brighter. Last year, 850 cases were adopted, and a total of 10,466 people were helped through the program.
To say the program is a big undertaking is an understatement. In fact, it takes a small army to power this unique program – and it’s made up almost entirely of volunteers. Because of their hard work, 100% of donations go directly to people in need.
“It’s a privilege to work with this team because they are so dedicated,” said Becky White, direct services program manager. “Each of them has diverse reasons why they’re here, but they all are united by wanting to help. They truly care.”
Starting in September, volunteers maintain the database of submitted cases, coordinate donations, match cases with people who want to help and work with local nonprofits to communicate clients’ needs. It takes around 30 volunteers working more than 1,800 hours to keep the program running, and many of them come back year after year to help.
Meet some of the dedicated volunteers working behind the scenes to make 100 Neediest Cases a success.
What’s your favorite thing about volunteering with 100 Neediest Cases?
Peggy, volunteer for 18 years: “I grew up reading the 100 Neediest Cases in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. I learned people didn’t all have the same life, and it helped shape my understanding of the community and how I can help. Now volunteering here, I have a good team. That’s what’s really special for me. We all work together, we get the job done, and we have a good time doing it.”
Cheryl, volunteer for 13 years: “It’s a great opportunity to interact from both sides. I get to help the people wanting to adopt find just the right kind of family they’re interested in helping, and then help the agencies work with the families to get the assistance they need. It’s been a good gig!”
What’s your most memorable moment as a 100 Neediest Cases volunteer?
Judy, volunteer for 5 years: “My first year volunteering, there was a case where all the woman wanted was a new hat to wear to church. That’s all she wanted.”
Peggy: “The very first year I started, after the stories were published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I got a call, and he said to me, ‘I’m trying to eat my breakfast but I can’t swallow until I help this family.’ There was a mom and dad and three teenage kids living in a park because they’d been evicted from their house. The caller wanted to give them a house, and he wanted to do it anonymously. He worked in construction, and his company had a house the family could move in to. That family moved in on Christmas Eve. I can never tell that story without crying.”
Why do you keep coming back to volunteer year after year?
Sandy, volunteer for 7 years: “I really enjoy knowing that we can help so many families who are in such desperate need. It’s very rewarding.”
Cheryl: “60 agencies throughout the metropolitan area submit stories of people needing help. So, you’re not just helping one organization or one area. It’s so all-encompassing. It touches people from so many places.”
This year, thousands of individuals and families have requested help this holiday season through 100 Neediest Cases. To learn more about how you can adopt a case, fundraise for a family in need or donate to the program, visit 100NeediestCases.org.
Take action now:
- Hear what 100 Neediest Cases means to those who were helped in 2019.
- Looking for more opportunities to give back during the holidays? Discover the perfect opportunity for you with United Way’s Holiday Volunteer Guide.
- Share this story with family and friends.
Emily Becherer is a proud native St. Louisan, writer and lover of stories in all their forms. Faced with a captivating question, she will research her way down a rabbit hole and emerge with words that educate and inspire. You can probably find her taking in a musical, bingeing through a new podcast series, exploring the trails at local parks or curating her extensive library of Spotify playlists.