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:

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, or visit Free the Children’s page, to learn about the history of the We Act program and how you can get involved!


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

We’ll see you there!

Amy Tasto, Building Friendships and Family at Loaves and Fishes

Each month, we highlight a volunteer making a big difference for one of our affiliate partners. This month, we are pleased to honor Amy Tasto, a dedicated volunteer at Loaves and Fishes in Minneapolis.

By: Keith Chellsen, Loaves and Fishes, Minneapolis

As a volunteer with Loaves and Fishes in Minneapolis, Amy Tasto plans and coordinates special activities and programs at the Loaves and Fishes dining site. She spends a great deal interacting with the guests, establishing friendships and determining the needs they may have.

Amy has spent countless hours in visualizing, planning and coordinating special events at the Loaves & Fishes dining site. She initiated donations of over 100 coats, jackets, gloves, hats and mittens (enough that there were no families that went without). She has also developed and overseen a craft area for the children at the site and stocked it with supplies for them to use.

Amy was also the inspiration for a summer block party event that brought together kids and adults alike to celebrate with games, treats and prizes. She worked closely with city officials, park departments and civic organizations to make the event happen. Using her skills at event planning, she then went on to organize a 300 person Christmas celebration complete with gifts for Loaves and Fishes families.

Amy shares her selfless dedication, empathy, compassion and genuine love of the program each day. She has worked tirelessly, and committed hours of her own time to help create a welcoming and accepting atmosphere of friendship and family so that our guests always feel at home. She epitomizes the mission of Loaves and fishes and we are grateful for the service she gives each year!

For more information on Loaves and Fishes please visit their website at

Julie Panning, Making an Impact through ‘Impact Now’

Julie PanningEach month, we highlight a volunteer making a big difference in the community. This month, we are pleased to honor Julie Panning, a volunteer through the HandsOn Twin Cities Impact Now program.

Name: Julie Panning

Tell us about the volunteer work you’ve been up to recently.
Recently, I have been volunteering once a month at the Family Service Center in Maplewood as part of the Bedtime Stories Project.  This is a supervised reading & play time with the children who are currently staying at the service center. It gives the parents a time to take a break knowing that their children are in a safe & fun environment.  These are families in transition, a difficult situation, and it feels good to be able to help them in a small way. Not only have I had the opportunity to interact with some energetic, fun and adorable children, but I’ve also had the good feeling associated with, as one mom said, giving them a “break from reality.”

What motivates you to volunteer?
My daughters motivate me to volunteer.  I want them to see me living my faith by putting it into action, and that is why I help others. We believe all of our blessings come from God, and we are called to serve others.

Tell us about a meaningful or enjoyable memory from your volunteer work.
Each time I make a connection with a child it is very meaningful to me. It may be holding a baby and making him laugh, or teaching kids a new card game and watching someone’s eyes light up when they win.  Knowing that the children had a good time is a wonderful feeling, and I’ve left each night with a smile on my face.

How has HandsOn Twin Cities helped you serve the community?
HOTC has definitely helped both me & my husband serve our community.  It was easy to search for opportunities that worked with our schedule, & sign up for a project in an area that interested us. I hope to keep using HOTC to find volunteer opportunities in the future.

What do you do when you’re not volunteering?
When I am not volunteering, I am a busy and blessed stay at home mother to Maria and Susanna. Spending time with my husband and daughters is very important to me.  I also enjoy reading, knitting, cooking, and baking.

Global Youth Service Day, Week of Service

By: Carly Bandt, HOTC Youth Advisory Board President

“GYSD was an eye opening experience that let me clearly see how a community of high schoolers could come together and work as a team for the greater good”

This statement, expressed by Mei (Photo 1) after volunteering at the Week of Service Global Youth Service Day event, illustrates the impact volunteering can have not only on the recipients of service, but also on those who dedicate their time to help others.


Photo 1: Volunteer Mei Li begins working on her set of alphabet flashcards to donate to an after-school tutoring program in Minneapolis.

While planning my GYSD project, my vision was to spark collaboration within my high school in order to encourage fellow classmates to become involved with service, in addition to helping various nonprofit organizations with a variety of “speed volunteering” projects each day after school.


Photo 2: Students gathered together with friends to write letters to girls in Malawi, a beautiful country in Africa.








It was remarkable how many students, many of whom had never volunteered before in their lives, were drawn in by the uplifting spirit that was created when we all gathered together in the front entrance of our high school with music, an informational booth on volunteerism, and of course, plenty of delicious food!

Said volunteer Christine Kao (Photo 3): “I liked that so many people who didn’t know one another were willing to join together to achieve something greater than themselves … even if they just did it for the food!”


Photo 3: Volunteer Christine Kao scoops ice cream for hungry volunteers after they turn in three dog toys to donate to Can Do Canines, an organization that trains seeing-eye dogs.

Although some students did show up for less than altruistic motives, a large majority became very engaged with their work, and asked how else they could become involved by volunteering on a regular basis at the organizations we supported throughout the Week of Service. By bringing GYSD directly to students rather than making them take the initiative to sign up and get transportation to the event themselves, we were able to reach almost 200 students.

Photo 4: Colleen Patty cuts fabric to create a baby bib to donate to Bundles of Love, an organization that gives baby clothes and supplies to low-income families.

Photo 4: Colleen Patty cuts fabric to create a baby bib to donate to Bundles of Love, an organization that gives baby clothes and supplies to low-income families.

Said Colleen Patty (Photo 4): “My favorite thing was probably the accessibility of GYSD. It was amazing to help people without even leaving the school. Many students have busy lives, and the ability to volunteer right at school is wonderful.”




Although planning my first GYSD was a challenge, with plenty of mistakes, stressful moments, and obstacles to overcome, the way I felt when I mailed 171 letters to girls in Malawi, 139 dog toys to service dogs at Can Do Canines, 263 baby bibs to Bundles of Love, and 35 sets of alphabet flashcards to an after-school tutoring program made the entire endeavor worth it!

Lynn Marquardt, Bone Builder

Lynn VOA photoEach month, we highlight a volunteer making a big difference for one of our affiliate partners. This month, we are pleased to honor Lynn Marquardt, a dedicated volunteer for Volunteers of America-MN’s RSVP program.

By Rachel Laurie, Volunteers of America – MN, RSVP Program

Lynn Marquardt volunteers as a Bone Builders class leader at Dickman Park Apartments in Minneapolis. Bone Builders, a signature program of RSVP, is an osteoporosis prevention exercise class that removes economic barriers by providing free classes for older individuals that may not have opportunities for exercise otherwise.

She has taken a very diverse group of Bone Builders class participants and has formed a unified family. She incorporates the cultures and languages of the class participants by counting in different languages and teaching new words to bring familiarity and a welcome environment, and encourages the class to respect and honor each other.

Lynn organizes parties and celebrations for the class and provides a great social atmosphere for the class participants who may not have other opportunities. Her charismatic charm and ability to include everyone has transformed the social and cultural atmosphere, as well as the health, of a diverse group in Northeast Minneapolis. Through her tireless efforts to include everyone, she makes all feel that they are welcome and an important part of the community.

Thank you, Lynn, for choosing to make a difference!

Find out more about volunteering with Volunteers of America – Minnesota.