Alexa Diciero was motivated to complete her hours of service for her sorority when she was home from the University of Nevada, Reno for the summer.
After finding an opportunity to help at The Salvation Army Henderson United (Nevada) Corps food pantry through the United Way of Southern Nevada (UWSN)’s Volunteer Connect website, she got involved during the pantry’s pre-packaging and food distribution days.
When summer turned to fall, she also participated in the backpack-stuffing event for students going back to school.
“I’m inspired to volunteer because of my love of helping others and doing something bigger for my community,” Diciero said.“Helping kids that need school supplies and distributing food to those in need has such a big impact on our local families.”
Diciero is one of a number of volunteers who have given their time thanks to a growing partnership between the UWSN and The Salvation Army Southern Nevada. The collaboration is creating new opportunities for volunteers to get involved in supporting their local community.
“We’ve been partnered with the United Way for many, many years,” said Kisha Alderman, Corporate Engagement and Volunteer Coordinator for The Salvation Army Southern Nevada. “We are all about restoring hope and transforming lives—and our volunteers are a vital part of making that happen.”
Since January, an estimated 7,000 people have been served at The Salvation Army Henderson United Corps client choice food pantry. And that’s with the help of volunteers, many of whom have found the opportunity through the UWSN’s Volunteer Connect website, which allows nonprofits including The Salvation Army to post volunteer opportunities for hundreds of individuals and companies in the local community to find new ways to give back.
Alderman said each day she logs in to the sites—The Salvation Army and UWSN Volunteer Connect—to post the relevant opportunities and review applicants, who can serve at a number of Salvation Army sites in the area, including the Henderson United Corps.
At the Henderson United Corps’ pantry, volunteers can help with pre-packaging dairy, bakery and fresh produce for community members on Mondays and Wednesdays, or they can help with distribution on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The Salvation Army and UWSN have also partnered in creating special events such as the recent back-to-school backpack stuffing event and the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas events.
“It may seem like a laborious task,” said Diciero, who was selected as UWSN volunteer of the month in August, “however, the gratification that is achieved after seeing a smile on someone’s face who doesn’t have a reason to smile too often is a once in a lifetime feeling.”
UWSN also brings opportunities to The Salvation Army and other local community partners through their kit-building events. To date, more than 10,130 hygiene, first aid, food and housewares kits have been assembled for those in need this year.
“It is truly an amazing partnership,” said Savanna Sibley, Director of Volunteer Engagement at UWSN. “Kisha and I are constantly in communication to help keep the connection strong.”
Another way the two groups have collaborated for the past eight years is through Day of Caring, which is the United Way of Southern Nevada’s largest one-day community-wide volunteer event that brings together hundreds of volunteers with the nonprofits that need their help.
This year’s event, which kicked off at Stoney’s Rockin’ Country in Town Square in Las Vegas on Sept. 22, brought together nearly 1,000 volunteers and 43 community partners to work on 56 important projects.
“The Salvation Army is always actively participating,” Sibley said. “It shows we have linked arms to bring the community together.”
And bringing the community together has led to greater impact—on those who are being served as well as those who are serving.
“Volunteering has improved my life by creating a sense of purpose and satisfaction by helping others,” Diciero said. “It reminds me to live a life of gratitude and appreciation.”