Social Justice and Outreach Volunteer Opportunities during the Pandemic

Last updated November 12, 2020

We know many Gloria Dei members are looking for ways to engage in local social justice ministries while remaining safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below is a list of some opportunities available with some of our long-standing social justice partners at Gloria Dei.

Loaves and Fishes Gloria Dei members continue to work with Loaves and Fishes to help feed people struggling with homelessness in downtown St. Paul. We cook and serve a meal at Catholic Charities’ St. Paul Opportunity Center on the fourth Wednesday of even-numbered months; our next serving date is Wednesday, December 23. Learn more and sign up to volunteer here.

Francis Basket Food Shelf We continue to receive food shelf donations for Francis Basket. Neighborhood House, the organization that operates Francis Basket Food Shelf, has additional volunteer opportunities available, especially with their Fresh Produce Distribution program, which continues through the winter. It takes place outdoors in a covered parking ramp on the Metro State campus, so people can simply drive up and receive the produce in a contactless pick up. Volunteers are kept socially-distanced. Learn more about these volunteer opportunities here.

Support for neighbors in tent communities With an increasing number of homeless neighbors across the Twin Cities, Gloria Dei members Bruce and Nancy Agneberg have worked with others in the neighborhood to collect supplies for those in the tent communities. People need the following items: thermal underwear (male and female); socks; underwear (new and in packages); toilet paper; hygiene products; plastic garage bags; bottled water; propane tanks (full or empty) including the small green ones; flashlights; batteries of all sizes; 4-6 people tents and tarps. They are well supplied with jackets, scarves, etc. Each Tuesday in November from 3-6 p.m., you can drop off donations in the Gloria Dei parking lot. Contact the Gloria Dei office to find out other ways to leave your donations (651-699-1378).

Highland Park Elementary Weekend Backpack Program The 2020-2021 School Year brings with it many challenges. The Weekend Backpack Program has worked to adapt the program to meet the current needs of Highland Park Elementary families to reduce hunger in our neighborhood and particularly those students and families that attend HPE. There are currently three ways to volunteer:

  1. On Wednesdays,10 Gloria Dei families can sign up to bring a bag of food to Highland Park Elementary at 1700 Saunders between 5:00-5:30pm. This is a no contact drop off outside of the Main Entrance of the school. Simply sign up for the week(s) that work for you. HPE Parents pick up the food from 5:30-6:00pm. Click here for more information or to sign up.
  2. Pick up shelf stable food from Gloria Dei’s Sharing Place and deliver food to HPE on Wednesdays between 4:30-5:30. Two experienced volunteers will train new volunteers.
  3. Join a group of volunteers to move food delivered from The Food Group to Gloria Dei and place in the Sharing Place the 4th Monday of the month around 11:00 am.

Interfaith Action of Greater St. Paul Department of Indian Work The DIW’s programs are designed to serve the needs of the American Indian community in a way that respects their cultural and spiritual diversity. Along with their food shelf, they are active in diabetes education, clothing assistance, youth health and wellness, and youth program. If you are interested in volunteering with any of these programs, click here.

Keystone Community Services Midway Food Shelf Keystone welcomes volunteers to help at their Midway Food Shelf location or with their Foodmobile. Learn more by clicking here. 

Lutheran Social Service Metro Homeless Youth Services LSS is currently seeking donations of groceries and other items for their various Metro Homeless Youth programs. They have instituted a no-contact system for dropping off donations. Click here to learn more. We also provide the evening meal once a month at Safe House, an emergency shelter for youth ages 16-20 years old, serving six youth each night in a single-family home in St. Paul. If you are interested in helping prepare and deliver a meal to Safe House, contact Katie LeClair.

Project Home For decades, we have housed homeless families in the month of December as part of Interfaith Action of Greater St. Paul’s Project Home program. Due to the pandemic, Project Home guests are currently living in a hotel, where families have their own space. Though there won’t be opportunities to volunteer with Project Home this year at Gloria Dei, Project Home is seeking volunteers to serve as Children’s Room Assistants. You can learn more about this opportunity here.

Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative Gloria Dei is exploring a partnership with Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative, an organization that works to create affordable housing in the Twin Cities. You can learn more about Beacon by attending their monthly “Rent Is Due” virtual actions on the first of each month, 8:30-9:00am, or their “Dwelling in Hope” socially-distanced, outdoor rally at the State Capitol on November 15 at 1pm. If you’re interested in being part of Gloria Dei’s Beacon Team, contact Don Fulton.

Mapping Prejudice To build community awareness about housing injustice, Mapping Prejudice and St. Catherine University are mobilizing volunteers to document racial covenants in Ramsey County. Racial covenants were legal clauses embedded in property deeds that barred people who were not white from buying or occupying land. Elders have known for decades that covenants were widespread. But even with that community wisdom, there is a lot that we don’t know. How common were these restrictions? What areas of our community were reserved for white people only? How much land was restricted in this way? When were they put into place? What did they say? What are the legacies of these practices today? Help make a map that can answer these questions. Start by watching this training video, then register for one or more volunteer sessions.

Christmas Giving Ideas Each year we help others celebrate Christmas by sharing gifts with those without the means to give to their loved ones. Stay tuned for more information about how to participate in our Giving Tree online this year. This Christmas season, you may also consider giving ELCA Good Gifts to your loved ones; these gifts support the ministries of the ELCA in nearly 80 countries around the world. Learn more by clicking here.