Middlesex United Way: Young Leaders Society helps others through volunteering

Our Young Leaders Society is gearing up for a busy holiday season and I am so excited to tell you about a few ways you can connect with young professionals in Middlesex County, while also giving back during the holidays.

On Nov. 16 and Nov. 17, the Young Leaders Society will be at Stop & Shop in Middletown for their annual Fill-a-Bus food drives to collect non perishables for The Middletown Community Thanksgiving Project. Both drives will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with multiple shifts available for sign up. The Middletown Thanksgiving Community Project was established to ensure all Middletown families who are not able to afford to purchase a Thanksgiving meal can still enjoy a feast on Thanksgiving.

The items we are looking to collect are: canned sweet potatoes, gravy, corn, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and potatoes. Volunteers are needed to greet shoppers outside the grocery store, as well as to hand out flyers as customers head in to do their shopping. If you would like to help volunteer on either date, please contact Amanda Furlong at 860-346-8695.

Right after Thanksgiving, the holiday season really gets into full swing. On Dec. 12 , the Middlesex United Way Young Leaders Society will act as host for their seventh annual Holiday Social & Stuff-a-Cruiser event at the Hop Knot Restaurant. We hope you will join us in socializing for a good cause and bring a new, unwrapped gift to help us stuff a Middletown police cruiser with gifts for kids in grades 6-12. All gifts will be distributed throughout the Middletown area.

A complimentary beer will be provided for attendees who donate an unwrapped gift. The Hop Knot Restaurant is locally famous for their gourmet pretzels and extensive local craft beer selection. They offer unique menu items, such as their famous knot dogs, pretzel grilled cheeses, and pretzel bun sandwiches.

For the third year, we are seeking to collect gifts for an older demographic, as they are often overlooked. Gift donations could include sports equipment (i.e. soccer balls, footballs, batting gloves), beauty products, hand and body lotions, movie tickets, cold weather accessories, DVDs, books, jewelry, gift certificates, MP3 Players, and male or female clothes.

If you are unable to attend on Dec. 12 but would still like to be a part of our cause, please call us at 860-346-8695. There are opportunities for sponsorship, as well as hosting your own collection site.

The Young Leaders Society is a group of committed, individuals who are dedicated to growing the spirit of philanthropy, community advocacy, volunteerism, and leadership. The Young Leaders Society provides opportunities for networking, learning, leading, and volunteering.

Aside from the two mentioned, the Young Leaders hold various events throughout the county and are an integral part of the Middlesex United Way efforts to strengthen and improve our county. Through the years, they have successfully held Learn with Leaders, Speed Mentoring with Local Professionals, School Supply Drives and various fundraising events.

New people are always welcome, so please bring a friend and help support us this holiday season.

To learn more about the Young Leaders Society or to sign up to volunteer at our Fill-a-Bus food drive or RSVP for the Dec. 12 Holiday Social Stuff-A-Cruiser Toy Drive, please contact Amanda Furlong at (860)346-8695 or Amanda.furlong@middlesexunitedway.org

Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.