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Dubuque hoping to fix connection issues between organizations, volunteers

Published: Dec. 4, 2021 at 11:33 AM CST
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - The Multicultural Family Center is filled with dolls, board games, bikes, and many other toys as it hosts this year’s Toys for Tots drive, which hands out donated toys to families in need during the holiday season.

The effort, however, requires the help of more Santa’s helpers than they currently have.

”We have five families come every 30 minutes, so we like to have one volunteer per family to guide them through and show them how to do it,” Bryce Parks, who coordinates Toys for Tots, said. ”Five volunteers in the morning, five in the afternoon across so many days is a lot of volunteers you need, so we could definitely use that help.”

But city officials told KCRG-TV9 there is not necessarily a void of volunteers; it is a connection issue. So through the new Volunteer DBQ online portal, the city’s AmeriCorps program and the United Way of Dubuque Area Tri-States are trying to bridge the gap.

”This volunteer portal has a place for organizations to post needs so volunteers can get connected to those needs,” Sarah Berna, AmeriCorps coordinator, said. “And then our Dubuque citizens throughout the area can browse and look for those volunteer needs and fit with what they are looking for to give back.”

A Volunteer Generation Fund grant of $29,799 annually from Volunteer Iowa allows the city to enhance the portal, which links volunteer interest with organizations’ needs and, in that way, freeing time and resources for both.

”This really streamlines this for [the organizations], too,” Danielle Peterson, president and CEO of United Way of Dubuque Area Tri-States, said. “They do not have to take calls from people who are interested in seeing ‘Do you have an experience or don’t you that fits my time or my needs as a volunteer?’”

The portal currently has about 100 organizations and 2,000 active users. Organizations looking for volunteers or people in the Dubuque area looking for volunteering opportunities are encouraged to visit the Volunteer DBQ portal here.

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