2015 Volunteer Expo: Celebrating 10 Years!

HOTC Final

This past Valentine’s Day, thousands of people shared their love of volunteerism with HandsOn Twin Cities at our 10th annual Volunteer Expo. A huge thanks to those of you who stopped by and visited the nonprofit booths, participated in speed volunteering and braved both the cold and the crowds at Mall of America to attend the event.

This year, HOTC was excited to have 94 organizations on site sharing their mission and opportunities with Mall of America guests. Ten of these organizations offered ‘speed volunteering’ opportunities that allowed Expo visitors to engage in quick volunteer activities. Hundreds of people stopped for 5-15 minutes to speed volunteer. Volunteers participated in many different projects including:

Tshirt Making

Volunteers making t-shirts to donate to a local nonprofit

  • Tracing patterns for baby clothes with Bundles of Love
  • Packing snack packs for dining sites serving youth with Loaves and Fishes
  • Bagging powdered laundry soap with PRISM
  • Working with Resource, Inc. to decorate journals for men, women and children impacted by mental illness or addiction
  • Making fleece dog blankets and fleece dog toys for Retrieve a Golden of Minnesota (RAGOM)
  • And many more!
best booth, group

Best booth winners!

Congratulations to Ramsey County Sheriff’s Fright Farm Haunted House for winning Best Booth! They went all out to make their booth as scary as their haunted house! Honorable mentions go to AARP Minnesota, Tamarisk, Minnesota Literacy Council, Gibbs Museum and Matter for creating fun, colorful and engaging booths to attract Expo visitors.

Be The Change: Congratulations to the HOTC Be The Change award winners, Julie Gilbertson (Metro Blooms), Bob Scholz (DARTS), Thomas Rustemis (Be the Match), and Anna Rice (Pinky Swear Fountation). Each award winner was given a certificate of thanks and the nonprofit they serve received a financial contribution on their behalf. Keep an eye out for a future blog post with more information on each of these amazing volunteers!

Award winners - group

Be the Change Award winners and their nominators.

Ten Years Strong: This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Volunteer Expo. We have had many dedicated nonprofits that have attended this event each year. We are happy to share this exciting anniversary with the following nonprofits who are ten year veterans of the Expo!

  • The Arc Greater Twin Cities
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities
  • Catholic Charities
  • Cheerful Givers
  • Great River Greening
  • Helping Paws
  • Kids ‘n Kinship
  • Neighbors, Inc.
  • Can Do Canines
  • Ramsey County
  • The Aliveness Project
  • RSVP Program- Volunteer of America of MN

These organizations have hauled loads of materials, braved mall parking, and spent long hours talking to mall-goers in order to spread their mission. The Expo would not be the event that it is without these organizations. Thank you affiliates!

You Retweeted for HOTC! This year, Mall of America generously offered to host a retweet campaign on behalf of HandsOn. For each retweet of their Twitter posts about the 2015 Volunteer Expo, the Mall donated $1 to HOTC! We raised over 500 dollars with the help of MOA and YOU! Thanks to everyone who took the time to retweet for HandsOn.

The Expo would not have been possible without the wonderful support from our lead sponsor Thrivent Financial. A big thanks to the Thrivent employees who volunteered with HOTC throughout the event day! In addition, we would like to thank 3M, Mall of America, Thomson Reuters, Xcel Energy, Greater Twin Cities United Way and Ameriprise Financial along with our other in-kind supporters; KARE 11 and Amanda Cox Graphic Design.

Were you there? If you attended the event, please leave a comment and tell us about your experience! We’d love to hear how you heard about it, the connections you made, and how you plan to use the information you found!

Thanks to everyone who was involved. Together, we can all Be the Change!

Celebrating MLK Day with Service

Mt. Airy 6

Volunteers from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota and Dakota County read with children from the Mt. Airy Boys and Girls Club.

This past Monday volunteers celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by participating in a day of service for their communities here in the Twin Cities. In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast, General Mills Foundation partnered with HandsOn Twin Cities to provide impactful volunteer opportunities for employees from local corporations as well as community volunteers. Through this initiative and our partnership with General Mills Foundation, we were able to help organize 15 volunteer events around the Twin Cities, that will engage over 400 volunteers.

This week we will work with volunteer groups from General Mills, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Ecolab, 3M, Dakota County, Target, Land O’ Lakes, Carlson, Best Buy, Cargill and more. These groups will join us in service at local nonprofits such as the YWCA, The Boys and Girls Clubs, American Cancer Society, Project for Pride in Living and many more. We are grateful for these volunteers who took the time out of their day to participate in these projects.

You can watch the 2015 MLK Day Breakfast on TPT, or view a recap of the breakfast and volunteer projects on WCCO.

Volunteer Group After

A group of 3M volunteers after painting at the YWCA.

If you weren’t able to give back on Monday, join us this week at our last open MLK projects! We have open spots for community volunteers to participate in special volunteer events this Thursday and Friday.

Help Sort Donated Food for MLK Week (January 22)

Join Governor Dayton’s Council at Second Harvest (January 23)

For questions about MLK volunteering, please contact Ellie (ellie@handsontwincities.org).

HandsOn Twin Cities Welcomes in the New Year!

Blog picLast year was an exciting and eventful year for HandsOn Twin Cities. We saw many busy weeks as we managed dozens of corporate volunteer projects, put on large scale events like the Volunteer Expo and worked with our nonprofit affiliates to promote their volunteer opportunities. In 2015, we are excited to bring in the new year with new changes to our staff and Board of Directors!

We are happy to introduce Rose Maanum, who is joining the HOTC staff as Special Projects Director. Rose comes to HandsOn from Target Corporation. She has experience in both corporate and small business settings and we are excited to welcome her to the HOTC team!

HOTC is also thrilled to welcome 7 new members to our Board of Directors in 2015. The HandsOn Twin Cities Board of Directors creates a solid backbone for our organization and is responsible for giving insight and expertise into the volunteer, corporate and nonprofit worlds. We are excited to add new expertise from a variety of organizations and corporations in the new year.

New board members include:

Miranda Hirner
Miranda Hirner is an Associate at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP. She has served as a law clerk with Target Corporation, a judicial extern with the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota and has marketing experience with the Wisconsin School of Business and Wisconsin Alumni Association.

Colleen Murray
Colleen serves as a Human Resources Coordinator for General Mills Corporation. She has worked extensively with HR at Carlson Companies, as well as Carlson Wagonlit Travel.

Sheila Snapp
Sheila Snapp joins the HOTC board as a Community Relations Specialist at Thomson Reuters. Her experience in community relations and corporate responsibility will be an asset to our 2015 Board of Directors.

Susan Schuster
Currently the Senior Community Relations Consultant at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Schuster is a passionate advocate for community involvement. Experienced leading community nonprofit initiatives and collaborating across corporate, nonprofit and government sectors to accomplish goals, Schuster has extensive knowledge of the Twin Cities’ community, corporate and nonprofit players and tirelessly pursues her passion for making meaningful connections between people, organizations and opportunities.

 Andy Goldman-Gray
Andy Goldman-Gray is a Founding Partner at AGG Marketing and Consulting. Andy is a senior-level marketing and development executive who excels at translating vision and strategy into action and results. His extensive experience provides him with the ability to position a brand, drive results and lead teams through understanding data, analysis and viewpoints and shaping them into a clear, cohesive vision through people oriented leadership and creative and strategic thinking.

Mathew Beaulieu
Mathew Beaulieu is an enthusiastic and positive individual who enjoys helping others in all aspects of life. He started working with HandsOn Twin Cities just over two years ago as a Project Coordinator with the Impact Now program.  Since then he has led three Impact Now projects, and is currently volunteering time directly to HandsOn Twin Cities to recruit and train additional Project Coordinators.He holds two Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of Minnesota, with majors in Computer Science, Management Information Systems, and International Business.

Cathy Close
Cathy Close is currently an Employee Relations Specialist at Cargill Corporation. She has extensive experience in Human Resources with Cargill, and has a passion for giving back through her work with the Cargill Learn Program, Cargill Cares Twin Cities Council, Cargill e-Mentoring Program and more.

To view our full board member list please visit our ‘About Us‘ page.

Amanda Wanous, Facilitating Learning through Play

Each month, we highlight a volunteer making a big difference for one of our affiliate partners. This month, we are pleased to honor Amanda Wanous, a dedicated volunteer at the Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul.

By: Kim Nienstedt, Minnesota Children’s MuseumAmanda Wanous Photo

Amanda is truly an amazing volunteer and an essential part of our community at Minnesota Children’s Museum. As a Playologist, Amanda goes above and beyond what is required of her in her volunteer position. For example, the Playologist volunteer commitment is only 10 shifts, but Amanda has stayed at the Museum for an incredible 54 shifts and counting, with a totally of 180 hours contributed. With that being said, it’s not even the numbers that make Amanda stand out. As a Playologist, Amanda is able to showcase her love of learning by helping Minnesota’s children do the same. Each Sunday morning Amanda comes in to volunteer, the Museum is typically at its highest in visitor attendance. Amanda facilitates different educational activities while she is here and also does free play throughout the exhibits. She immerses herself in play in each of our galleries and not only makes the children have fun, but she also becomes a guiding link for each child to learn something new each time they visit.

Throughout her two and a half years as a Playologist and recently Free Sunday Team Leader, Amanda has showcased incredible leadership and customer service skills that make our Museum community that much more enriching for our visitors. Because of Amanda’s leadership, other volunteers are helping children learn even more effectively, allowing our Museum community to develop and grow. Amanda’s ripple effect on our volunteers has made her an incredibly outstanding addition to our volunteer community.

To learn more about how to get involved with the Minnesota Children’s Museum, visit their website at http://www.mcm.org.

Give to the Max Day 2014: Lend-A-Hand to HandsOn Twin Cities!


This upcoming Thursday is Give to the Max Day, a day of annual giving that benefits nonprofits and schools around Minnesota. Give to the Max Day was created in 2009, and has since become an annual tradition that generates both excitement and donations for many great causes. Just last year In 2013, GiveMN raised more than $17 million in 24 hours during its annual Give to the Max Day celebration.

This year, HandsOn Twin Cities has made a goal of $5,000 for our Give to the Max Day campaign, and we need your help to reach it!

Why donate to HandsOn?


Established in 1919 as America’s first volunteer center, HandsOn Twin Cities brings 95 years of experience and leadership in volunteer services. Today we are still the central central source for volunteerism in the Twin Cities that meets the needs both of people who want to volunteer and of organizations working with volunteers.

So far this year, HandsOn Twin Cities has engaged 37,952 volunteers who served 216,412 hours. We also referred another 20,872 volunteers to our nonprofit affiliates.

Here’s just a snapshot of the impact volunteers have made this year:

  • 50,000 lbs of food sorted and packed
  • 15 garden beds built for community gardens
  • 2,800 aquatic and native plants species planted
  • 750 dog toys made and donated to shelters and foster dog families
  • 150 birthday ‘party in a boxes’ donated to low-income families

Through your support, HandsOn Twin Cities can continue to engage Twin Cities residents in meaningful volunteer service and better serve our 250 nonprofit partners!

For more info, or to schedule a gift today, please visit our GiveMN page: https://givemn.org/organization/Handsontwincities

Keep an eye on our Twitter page to see GTMD14 updates from our mascot, Lenny Lend-A-Hand!

lenny crop

We Day: Empowering Youth to Act Locally and Globally

We_Day_LogoEach year thousands of young people gather together to celebrate with musical acts as big as the Jonas Brothers, speakers as famous as Shaquille O’Neal, and inspiring stories from the likes of Al Gore, Barbara Bush, and even Minnesota’s own Mark Dayton. These acts, stories, and celebrations come together under the name We Day, and are meant to empower young people to act globally and locally.

We Day is an initiative of Free the Children, an international organization that works with schools across the world to promote charity and education with their “We Act” Program. Schools using the “We Act” Program are required to commit their students or student groups to a minimum of one global, and one local action. Students can support social initiatives that are run by Free the Children, or they can do work within their own communities and global communities of their choosing. We Act schools then receive We Day tickets to the celebration events each year to give out to participating youth.

The We Day initiative began in Toronto, with only one We Day celebration event, and has now grown to a worldwide program, with 15 large scale We Day Celebrations in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. Last year, Minneapolis held one of the largest We Day events in the country.

This year’s We Day event in Minnesota will be held on November 12, 2014, at the Xcel Energy Center. Acts and speakers include: Magic Johnson, The Band Perry,  Martin Sheen, Kweku Mandela, JR Martinez and many more.

In order to put on such a large scale event, Free the Children also needs event volunteers to assist in making the day fun, exciting and safe for the youth attending. HandsOn Twin Cities is working with Free the Children and helping to recruit volunteers to engage in this special day for young people. If you are interested in volunteering at We Day as an event volunteer please visit our We Day volunteer sign up page.

For more information about We Day visit their website at www.weday.com, or visit Free the Children’s page, www.freethechildren.com to learn about the history of the We Act program and how you can get involved!


http://www.freethechildren.com, http://www.weday.com, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_Day

Celebrate Service Nationwide – Join HandsOn Twin Cities for Make a Difference Day 2014!

Volunteers at Hidden Falls Regional Park on last year's Make A Difference Day .

Volunteers at Hidden Falls Regional Park on last year’s Make A Difference Day

Make a Difference Day – The Largest Day of Service

Annually, on the fourth Saturday of October, millions of volunteers come together to make a difference in their communities.  Make a Difference Day is a celebration of neighbors helping neighbors and individuals coming together to improve the lives of others. On this national day of service, anyone, regardless of age or resources, can make a difference through large organized volunteer events or simply by raking a neighbor’s yard. Make A Difference Day truly celebrates volunteers and the spirit of giving back through impact on both small and large scales.

We invite YOU to join HandsOn Twin Cities in service on Make A Difference Day, October 25th, 2014.

Join us for a family friendly volunteer project at North Mississippi Regional Park, which offers spectacular views of the Mississippi River and the surrounding woods and prairie. Here you will find abundant wildlife in action: a Great Blue Heron nesting on an island, deer foraging, a beaver felling trees, hawks and eagles soaring overhead. In summer, the prairie flowers provide ever-changing color. Volunteers will have the opportunity to collect native prairie seeds, build pollinators to help bring back the bee population and remove invasive buckthorn from the area. All of these efforts will help maintain and improve the natural habitat along the river.

2013 MADD volunteers got creative making bird feeders, seed packets and seed bombs.

2013 MADD volunteers got creative making bird feeders, seed packets and seed bombs.

This event is open to ALL so please bring your family, friends, fellow volunteers and anyone else who might be interested in spending the morning along the shores of the Mississippi River!

Click here to register today on the HandsOn Twin Cities Website!

If you have a question about the project please contact Meghan Morse at meghan@handsontwincities.org

We’ll see you there!