As we continue to navigate the coronavirus pandemic, Austin Humanists at Work has some rewarding volunteer opportunities to share that involve working regularly with clients to distribute food.
Austin Humanists at Work is a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a mission to uphold the values of humanism by assisting people in need in the Austin community. Typically we’ve done this by providing a short-term supply of basic living items at our monthly giveaways. But, those giveaways have changed.
What do giveaways look like during COVID-19 outbreak?
Instead of a giveaway line with 20-30 volunteers, on the 4th Sunday of each month, we are assembling a team of 6 volunteers to distribute bags to various homeless camps in Central Austin. All volunteers sign liability waivers and must wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Every 4th Sunday ATXHAW needs 2-4 volunteers, in particular, those with experience volunteering with unsheltered populations, to serve alongside our seasoned volunteers to hand out bags that include toiletries, socks, bug spray, as well as pre-packaged dry foods.
What’s new with the existing 4th Sunday giveaway?
Additionally, starting in the fall, ATXHW will begin to set up a few tables in our usual spot (7th and I-35 under the bridge) during corresponding dispersed bag-giveaway on 4th Sundays. There will be no line, but individuals will be able to pick up fresh fruits and bottled water, as well as choose from coats, hats and scarves that will be collected via the winter warmth drive. Stay tuned for more information our fall giveaways — there will be additional volunteers needed. More information on what Winter Warmth Drive items we will be collecting starting in September can be found here.
Are there weekly opportunities to volunteer during COVID-19?
YES! ATXHAW is supporting the efforts of Eat Apart Together (EAT), an initiative of Austin Public Health Department, to provide bags of food to our unsheltered neighbors in North Austin. Each bag will contain 12-15 pounds of food. For three Sundays a month at 9 a.m., ATXHAW needs 3 individuals or 3 co-quarantining pairs of adults (for a total of 3-6 volunteers) to meet in North Austin to distribute these EAT food bags to camps including under freeway overpasses and near tree lines along I-35 from Rundberg Lane to Grand Avenue Parkway. Volunteers will meet in the Norwood Park Walmart parking lot (1030 Norwood Park Blvd., Austin) at 9 a.m. every Sunday except the 4th Sunday to receive bags for distribution. All volunteers must provide their own PPE and sign a waiver. Experienced volunteers are encouraged to sign up recurring monthly through the end of the year to ensure we have enough person-power to deliver all the bags efficiently. At this time, we are only giving EAT bags of food at the weekly giveaways. On 4th Sundays, volunteers will dispatch to North Austin camps from the giveaway location downtown with EAT bags, as well as leftovers of the 200 ATXHAW bags handed out earlier that morning.
Are there other ways I can get involved with ATXHAW during COVID-19? Even if I’m social distancing?
Trash pickup: We have been inspired by a few volunteers to offer a chance to give back to our city. Every Sunday, we encourage volunteers to hold virtual trash pickups downtown (or in your own neighborhood) at about the same time as our giveaways: 9 a.m. When documented, we can count trash pickups and plogging! as volunteer hours that benefit our organization, and potentially gain financial sponsorships for this work!
Sharing our mission: We know times are rough and many families face uncertain financial futures. A no-cost way to help ATXHAW is to share our mission with your friends and family. It can be this post or your own fundraiser. We appreciate the support that has gotten us to reach many goals and it’s only possible when humanists can come together to share the understanding and mission of humans helping humans … no strings attached.
Wishlist: For those who are able, we keep an Amazon Wishlist with our most needed items (sort by priority to view). Most often we need socks, sunscreen and bug spray, but there’s an updated list of everything we accept and need during COVID-19
Monetary: With funds from generous donors, we can buy exactly what we need. Donations ebb and flow but a reserve helps ATXHAW support our mission and offer basic necessities. Our Facebook food fundraising effort from July and August raised $630 and will go to benefit 200 individuals per month.
With much gratitude, ATXHAW is tackling the last five months of 2020 with a strong passion for showing human decency and support to those in need.