This Holiday, Give Gifts that Give Back

This Holiday, it is easier then ever to Give Gifts That Give Back and we are going to give you two opportunities to #GiveBack to AACVC.

You have heard of Amazon!  No, not the lush forest teaming with 40-50 million species of Amazon Forestanimals (mostly beetles that have not been identified..) but the biggest e-commerce company, based out of Seattle, Washington.  You may have purchased something from the website in the past year.  The Amazon River runs through Brazil, Columbia and Peru in South America, the extremely AmazonRiverconvenient online department store,, has separate retail websites for United States, and many other countries!  Wow….both and the Amazon River have a far reach!

Amazon.comIn 1994 was founded by Jeff Bezos as a simple e-commerce bookstore, today offers shoppers the opportunity to pick a charitable foundation you would like to support while you conveniently shop on the website.   What does this mean?  This is how it works, go to, sign in with your current Amazon username and password, then search for the Volunteer Center for Anne Arundel County and pick us as the organization you want to support.  When you shop through you’ll find the exact same products, selections and shopping convenience with the added bonus that Amazon will donate 0.5% of purchase to AACVC!  This is so simple!  Start shopping on Cyber Monday!

Who doesn’t enjoy being Pampered?

PamperedChefThe Pampered Chef® has a vision that someday families all around the world will know the joy and rewards of gathering together in the tradition of family mealtimes!  Tis the season to enjoy meals with friends and family members and to give gifts that encourage simple gatherings.  AACVC is privileged to have Pampered Chef Consultant, Stacy Itzel host a Pampered Chef display and fundraiser.  Stacy will be at AACVC’s office (2666 Riva Road, Suite 130 Annapolis, MD) to kick off #GivingTuesday, December 2, from 9am-Noon.  Enjoy homemade breakfast treats and coffee while checking off those holiday gift purchases.  When you order with Stacy, 15% of your purchase goes to AACVC.


Shop today and #giveback

Can’t make the party…no worries, click this link and shop the online ordering page.  This fantastic fundraiser runs from December 2nd – December 13th.

Two easy ways to give back….one more suggestion…..just donate to AACVC. Click here to donate today!

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First, there was Black Friday, then Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.  Now presenting #GivingTuesday! A global day dedicated to giving back.


On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. 

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, community, company or organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving.  THEN take an #UNslelfie!  You don’t have to be a world leader or a billionaire to give back. #GivingTuesday is about ordinary people coming together doing extraordinary things, including here in Anne Arundel County!

Join AACVC and make your community giving part of a global celebration of generosity. We have TONS of opportunities for you to get involved—there’s something for everybody and so many different ways to give back!  December 2nd is just the beginning of the giving season, while we know the holiday season can be a busy time of year, we can all set aside some time to give to a cause we believe in.  We have over 300 non-profit partners listed on the website.  There is bound to be an organization or a cause that you are interested in serving as a volunteer.

Whether you want to give your time, lend your expertise, or contribute donations–everyone has something to offer! We want to help you help others in whatever way we can, and we have some great events and projects in the works to get you started.

Here are a few ways to get involved on #GivingTuesday:


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Student Volunteers Discover Surprises During Service

What surprises there may be when you volunteer!

What surprises there may be when you volunteer!

Five student volunteers headed out to Yellowfin in Edgewater for an evening of service, networking and card making. They helped Anne Arundel County Volunteer Center set up and engage members of the Next Gen of Anne Arundel County (Next Gen) in a volunteer activity.  Middle school students, Toni Fiocco-Mizer, Mia Camm and Leia Liberto enthusiastically encouraged the Next Gen’ers to create colorful Thanksgiving cards.  The cards will be included in Thanksgiving meals that are served at organizations like Bello Machre, Arundel Lodge or Meals on Wheels.  Toni Fiocco-Mizer was surprised and happy that the adults took the time to inquire about the volunteer activity and she said, “they did the project with actual excitement”.  The card making table was full of caring adults coloring, writing thoughtful notes and carefully placing foam stickers on colorful construction paper.

Seeds for Success' Executive Director, John Palinski creates Thanksgiving cards.

Seeds for Success’ Executive Director, John Palinski creates Thanksgiving cards.stickers on colorful construction paper.

This type of engagement is not surprising coming from a group of professionals who created Next Gen.  Because of their like-minded desire to be philanthropic and make an impact in their community and with the support of the Community Foundation of AACounty, Next Gen became a group with the common goal of growing a sustainable giving circle.  These professionals don’t just write checks, they volunteer in their communities. Sitting down with the middle school students, rolling up their sleeves and diving into some serious card making was a perfect fit this group!

Not only were Next Gen members at the event, several local non-profit organizations such as Books for International Goodwill (B.I.G.), Seeds for Success, Box of Rain, and Foodlink were involved with networking and engagement.  B.I.G. brought some of their books and handed them out for free.  Severna Park High School student Kyrsten Brewis, brought home a B.I.G. few books and also learned more about how she can get involved with B.I.G as a volunteer. She said one of the things she enjoyed and was surprised about during her volunteering was, “seeing all the different organizations and learning about the different things they do to help out, like tutoring”. Brandon Fiocco-Mizer, sophomore at Severna Park High School learned he can use his understanding and knowledge of algebra to tutor other students.

Mia Camm and Leia Liberto are members of the Jr. Honors Society at Severna Park Middle School and this volunteer activity fulfilled some of their required service hours. They got much more than volunteer hours.  Leah was surprised about “how much fun it was to get together with people who really wanted to help our community”.

High School students Brandon Fiocco-Mizer and Kyrsten Brewis talk with Next Gen Board Member, Hall Chaney.

High School students Brandon Fiocco-Mizer and Kyrsten Brewis talk with Next Gen Board Member, Hall Chaney.

With the support of the student volunteers and the participation of the Next-Gen members, the service project was a huge success and 38 cards were created!  Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, learn ways you can help in your community and add to your skill set.  If you are interested in learning more about student focused volunteering, visit and click on the student portal.

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Take Your Service a Step Further and FLEX


FLEX LeadersShow your muscles and FLEX!  Take your volunteer service a step further and learn how to be a FLEX Volunteer Leader. Leadership is a skill that needs to be practiced. There are ten behaviors or traits that create a great leader, they are honesty, ability to delegate, communication, sense of humor, confidence, commitment, positive attitude, creativity, intuition and the ability to inspire, according to Forbes, article “Top 10 Qualities Make a Great Leader”, published online 12/19/2012.  You can learn and practice these skills as a FLEX Volunteer Leader.

Dominic Mori was an Intern at the Volunteer Center from 2012-2014 and this is what he has to say about being a FLEX Volunteer Leader, “I was an intern at the Volunteer Center for 2 years from 2012-2014 and became very involved with outreach to partners, environmental projects and the cards projects.  Interning at the volunteer center has helped my skills in communication, project management and outreach.  As a FLEX leader I gained confidence in my ability to lead individuals and groups through meaningful volunteer projects.”

If you are the kind of person who can galvanize a group into action and see results of your efforts, join us on October 27th, 5:00pm-6:00 pm at the Volunteer Center, 2666 Riva Road, Suite 130, Annapolis, 21401.  You will gain important strategies, and key principles to volunteer leadership from professionals in the field.  You will leave the training with new skills and contacts to carry out important and meaningful volunteer projects.

To sign up for this exciting training, email  or call          410-897-9207.  Yes…it is FREE!



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Where to Start With Student Projects?


Student VolunteersYou are a student in High School or College and you want to get started on volunteering, but where do you begin?  The Volunteer Center makes it easy for students to find opportunities.  We have a webpage dedicated to student volunteers.

Bruce Morgenstern, the Board President for the Volunteer Center has been working intensely to find student friendly volunteer opportunities.  Bruce was recognized by the 21st Century Education Foundation as a Business Partner who is expanding student and skilled volunteers in Anne Arundel County.

Here are a few opportunities currently available to students:

Service-learning opportunities:
Volunteers are always needed to assist us in the Annapolis office, especially during the summer and winter months, when we run the Back to School and Holiday Sharing programs.  The Back to School Program provides backpacks and school supplies through donors to elementary school students that are on the free and reduced lunch list. There may be an opportunity during the Back to School Program for volunteers to assist with packing backpacks and school supplies and deliver backpacks to schools (varies from year to year).  The Holiday Sharing Program provides families and seniors in need with Thanksgiving and Christmas meals and/or gifts.  Students will have the opportunity to enter family and senior wish lists’ into our data system, answer and make phone calls, hand out gift cards, and deliver gifts.  Students 14 years or older are welcome to volunteer in our office.  Contact Tanya Steele at or 410-269-4461.
Thousands of books gather dust in storage rooms and attics, while thousands of students and adults in developing countries lack both textbooks and recreational reading.  Individuals of high school age and older are welcome to help on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to sort and shelve books for future Book Sales. Volunteers are also needed to help with packing and book sales from 8:00 am–12:00 noon on the second and fourth Saturdays each month.  Groups are welcome as well.  Please contact Joyce at 703-919-0069 or Steve Frantzich at 410-293-6865 or if you are interested in volunteering.  Volunteering is at the B.I.G. warehouse at 2000 Capital Drive in Annapolis.  For more information, visit our website:

There is so much you can do!  Get started right away.

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Students Try Tutoring

Make a difference!

Make a difference!

As a student you read, every day in and out of the classroom. You have to read for history, language arts, biology and just about every subject you take! Did you know that approximately 20 percent of the adult population in the United States can’t read English well enough to adequately function in society? No other basic skill is more closely associated with success in life!

You might be able to motivate a child to read in a way no one else can.  How…you ask…well, let’s take a look at how you can make a real change in someones life!

1. Find your “target group.” Who needs tutoring?
The Volunteer Center make this easy! Search the keyword Literacy on our website, and you will get over 15 organizations that help with literacy.

2. What skill(s) do they need the most help learning?                                                    What is your favor subject in school?  Maybe you can help with math, science, history, computers, etc.

3. If you decide to work with a school or youth group, get permission to tutor.  Check with the principal, teachers, or group leaders.

4. Recruit tutors.  Ask your friends to volunteer.                                                                Ask teachers for recommendations.  Identify each tutor’s skills so you can match up tutors with students. By providing this information to the organizations that offer tutoring you are expanding their services too!

You can make a real difference in someone’s life.  Bring your knowledge and skill to an organization an a weekly, or monthly basis and make a true impact in your community.

Below is a short Partner list from the Volunteer Center.  These partners offer tutoring opportunities for many different subjects.  Register as a volunteer and start tutoring!

Anne Arundel County Literacy Council

Anne Arundel County Public Library

Centro De Ayuda


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Students Can Use Service Projects to Test a Career Path

Student Service Learning Project

Are you a high school student or a college level student who is thinking of making a career choice soon?  Consider creating a service project to support a local non-profit to test your  area of interest.  Service projects are great ways to get your foot in the door in a field you may be thinking of entering as a career or focus of study.  Take animals as an example, in elementary school you always took care of the classroom pet.  You fed the squirrels and ducks at your local park,  and in middle school you were the go to contact if anyone needed  their dog walked while they went to Ocean City for the weekend!  In high school, you organized a fundraiser for the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).  Now what!?  Now take your interest a step further….to create a successful and hands on service project. These 10 foolproof steps will help you to develop a meaningful project that will create an impact and make a difference in your community.

Follow these steps and you will be learning valuable skills that look fantastic on a resume or college application, and also provide you with real life experience that you can talk about during interviews!

Getting Started in Service:

1.) Research Your Project.

Choose an issue that concerns you, and then come up with a project related to that issue.  Consider these questions.

  • What would I like to do?
  • What might benefit the most people/animals?
  • What can I afford (in terms of time, money, etc.)?
  • What is really possible for me to do?

2. Form a team.Build a Team!

If you don’t want to go it alone, or if the project seems too complicated to do by yourself, invite others to join you.

  • Choose people who share your interest in the project and who are likely to stay with you until it is completed.
  • Look around at your family, friends, school, neighborhood, or community for possibilities.
  • Don’t limit your group to people your own age.  Invite younger kids to get involved.  See if college students and seniors in your area want to help!

3. Find a sponsor.

Ask a responsible adult (teacher, parent, neighbor, community youth leader, etc.) to act as your sponsor.  This can give your project credibility with other adults whose help and/or permission you might need.

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay4. Consider the recipient.

Make sure that the people you plan to serve really want your help.  What’s the best way to do this?  ASK!  Then find out as much about them as you can.  For example:

  • What are their needs? (They may be different than you think, and you may need to revise your ideas accordingly.)
  • When are they available?  During what hours on what days?
  • Are there any limitations or restrictions?  What about special diets?  Physical limitations?  Allergies?  Other health issues?

5. Make a plan.

  • Decide when and where to meet.  You’ll want to meet frequently to discuss your project, decide who will do what, identify any problems, and report on your progress.
  • Define your goal.  What do you hope to achieve?
  • Set a schedule.  How long will your project take?  How much time will you spend each week on your project?  When is the date you want to be finished with your project?
  • Think hard about your project.  Is it realistic?   Is it too complicated?  Too simple?  How could you improve it?

6. Decide where you will perform your service.

Will you go to the people you plan to serve, or will they come to you?

  • If you go to them, be sure to visit the location ahead of time.  Is there enough room to do your project?  Does the location have everything you will need?  If not, what will you have to bring?  How will you get it there?  Will you have a place to store things?
  • If they come to you, make sure that your location has what you need.

7. Get any permissions you need to proceed.

Depending on your project, you might need to get permission from:

  • your principal
  • your teacher(s)
  • school district personnel
  • your youth leader
  • your parents
  • your neighbors
  • community organizations
  • owners of any facilities you will want to use
  • anyone else?

8 Advertise.

Let other people know about your project.

  • Make a one-page flyer.
  • Create a public service announcement.
  • Send out a press release.

9. Fundraise.

Do you need start-up money for your service project?  Will you need to buy equipment or supplies?  If you need to print 150 flyers at your local print shop, who will pay for the printing?  If your project will cost anything beyond pocket money, you’ll need to fundraise.

10. When your project has ended, evaluate it.Evaluate the Project

Reflect on your experience.  Discuss it with our team, family, teachers, friends, and neighbors.  Talk it over with the people you served.  Describe it in a journal or an online blog.  Write a poem, story, essay, or play about it; create music, dance or art about it; make a video or audio recording.  Try to address questions like:

  • What did you learn?
  • What did you accomplish?
  • What were your feelings, fears, joys?
  • Would you do it again?
  • How could you improve it?
  • Will you repeat it?  When? How soon? (you might use your poem, story, essay, play, video, etc., to inspire others to join you.)

This blog is the beginning of our Youth Service Project Planning Series.  Check back for service project ideas on subjects like, crime fighting, the environment, health & wellness, animals, and much more!

This information was duplicated from the book “The Kid’s Guide to Service Projects” written by Barbara A. Lewis and published by Free Spirit Publishing, 2009.

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