Volunteers of America (VOA), one of the nation’s oldest and most effective human service organizations in the nation launched their 109th Annual Sidewalk Santa® Campaign this month. Money collected goes towards their Holiday Food Voucher program. VOA’s Sidewalk Santas® are stationed beside their signature chimneys across Manhattan on Fridays in December, ringing their bells and raising money to help feed those in need. They serve as a reminder to remember our neighbors who struggle to put food on their table during this holiday season.
Volunteers of America has created additional ways of raising funds for the Holiday Food Voucher program, by enlisting corporate sponsors and driving more individual donors to their online “Virtual Sidewalk Santa” site: www.SidewalkSantaNYC.org. VOA is actively seeking the support of new sponsors to adapt and expand this historic program for the 21st century.
Rachel Weinstein, Vice President & Chief Development and Communications Officer for Volunteers of America-Greater New York, says the need for the Holiday Food Voucher program is immense. “With one in five New Yorkers living below the national poverty level, homelessness near record levels, and government programs being cut, our help can make a vital difference to thousands of our most vulnerable neighbors.
1.6 million New Yorkers currently live in poverty and struggle to put food on their tables. Last year VOA distributed more than 1,300 food vouchers throughout the Greater New York Area, but there were requests for many more. Acting as cash, the vouchers can be used at participating local markets for food only, providing low-income families, homebound older adults and people living with HIV/AIDS or other serious illnesses an opportunity to shop for and prepare a meal at home. Rather than relying on a food pantry or soup kitchen, the recipients of the Holiday Food Vouchers can enjoy a special holiday meal that respects their individual health, religious or other dietary restrictions.
Since it’s founding in New York City in 1896, Volunteers of America has been at the forefront of social service, delivering life changing and, in many cases, life saving services to people in need. One of the nation’s oldest and largest human services organizations, serving nearly 50,000 people in need in the Greater New York area each year, VOA is dedicated to helping individuals and families in need create positive and lasting change, through social service programs that support and empower them to live safe, healthy and productive lives. The Volunteers of America-Greater New York organization offers practical and compassionate support to thousands of the most vulnerable men, women and children in our community each year.