By Guest Blogger Leslie Isakoff

Teaching a child to have a giving heart is a lesson many parents feel is important. But finding truly meaningful volunteer activities that get the whole family involved can be a challenge.

A Simple Gesture is a food-collection agency working to feed hungry children and families in Guilford and Alamance counties and across the country. According to NC Child, in 2021 the child poverty rate in Guilford and Alamance counties was approximately 24%; sadly, North Carolina is one of the top ten states for child food insecurity. Since 2015 A Simple Gesture has provided over 1.5 million meals through our 14 partner food pantries, school food pantries, and mini-pantries located in medical offices.

Even if your family has a super-busy schedule, you can help feed those in need. Here are some volunteer activities and how to get involved:

Sign up to be a green bag food donor

As a food donor, you’re committing to fill one of our green reusable grocery bags (we’ll deliver the bag to you!) with nonperishable food every other month. And best of all, we’ll pick it up right from your front door. When you’re grocery shopping, your children can be in charge of reminding you to buy an extra item or two and picking out what to buy. If you buy just one extra item each week—a can of soup, a box of pasta, a can of vegetables—your bag will be full and the expense will be minimal. Once you get home, children can also be in charge of putting the item in the special green bag. You’ll be joining efforts with over 4,000 food donors in our area! To sign up in Guilford County, click here. To sign up in Alamance County, click here.

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Volunteer to pick up full bags of food

A Simple Gesture has pickups on Saturday mornings one to two times per month, depending where you live. On the pickup date, volunteer drivers visit a list of houses to pick up full bags of food from the front porches and take that food directly to a designated partner pantry. They also leave an empty bag at each house to repeat the process two months later. Picking up bags takes about two hours. Children love it because it’s like a treasure hunt; they love to “I-spy” the next green bag, and older children can be in charge of hopping out to pick up the bag and put it in the trunk. Sign up here.

Teenagers gain service hours and driving hours

Your teen can do the driving from house to house and gain service hours at the same time. It’s a two-for-one deal!

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Help at a partner pantry

A large food pantry like BackPack Beginnings might receive over 15,000 pounds of food from one of our food collections. There are many volunteer activities at these pantries. Volunteers help with unloading green bags filled with food, sorting that food, checking expiration dates, and getting the food onto the shelves so it can go out to children and families in need even more quickly. In Guilford County, you can sign up to volunteer here.

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Get involved in food recovery

A Simple Gesture’s RePurpose program partners with grocery stores, restaurants, caterers, schools, and more to pick up excess perishable food and quickly get it to nonprofits serving community meals. Pickups happen during the day and on weekends, providing another way teens can get driving and service hours. If your family owns a business or restaurant, contact RePurpose to donate food for food recovery. Your business can donate food one time or on an ongoing basis. In 2021 RePurpose recovered 114,938 pounds of perishable food in Guilford County.


Host a food collection or food donor drive

Scout groups, youth groups, sports teams, schools, and neighborhoods all can host a food drive. Contact A Simple Gesture, and we’ll bring you food collection bins or green bags for the food drive. Once the drive is over, we’ll pick up the food collected and take it to the pantry.

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Tell a friend or neighbor

If you regularly take walks around your neighborhood, help spread the word about A Simple Gesture. Contact us and we’ll provide brochures and signup cards to hang on mailboxes or door knobs or to deliver to neighbors.

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All of these volunteer activities help children understand that they play an active role in helping our community. To learn more about A Simple Gesture or to become a food donor or other volunteer, for Guilford County visit or for Alamance County visit

Learn about more non-profits and volunteer opportunities here

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