Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Volunteer Job Descriptions

Four hundred fifty families will participate in St. Margaret’s Center’s Christmas Program – 2009.The families are low-income; most live below the poverty level, and reside in the airport area of Los Angeles (primarily Inglewood-Lennox-Hawthorne). About 70% are Spanish-speaking, although many of these are bilingual, and most of the older children speak English. Most of the families regularly receive food and other services at St. Margaret’s, and have applied for the Christmas Program. Each family will receive a $25 food certificate, and three toys per child 13 and under.

The program will take place at the Hollywood Park Racetrack in Inglewood, at Century Bl. and Prairie Ave. Enter at Prairie Ave. and Arbor Vitae St. (two blocks north of Century) at Gate 2. Park as close as you can to the main building, and follow the signs to the St. Margaret’s Center event. (There is a separate gate to enter the program – do not enter at the main racetrack gate). The program will take place on the first floor, between tunnels 4 and 5. There is a glass door and staircase between the two tunnels. Check in at the Volunteer tableoutside,to sign in and receive your volunteer badge. Note: Dress warmly! The first floor is much cooler than the 4th floor where we previously held the event.

Fifty+families will be arriving each hour between 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. After registering, the families will take the elevator or stairs up to the 1st floor. The parents will be escorted through toy rooms to choose the toys, and will proceed to the wrapping area to have their presents wrapped. In the meantime, the children will be entertained on the other side of the room with music, games, facepainting, arts and crafts, and a visit with Santa. The families, as well as the volunteers, can enjoy hot dogs, popcorn, lemonade and cookies throughout the day. We anticipate about 1,800 family members, and over 200 volunteers at the program.

Volunteer Job Descriptions

3 shifts:
8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
11:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
2:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The morning shift involves a half hour of preparation and orientation before the families arrive. The last shift includes a half-hour of clean-up. The half- hour overlap between shifts is for volunteers to train the next shift of volunteers—
please try to cover all aspects/nuances of your job in your training.

Families will be given an invitation to arrive at the party at ½ hour intervals, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. No one will be admitted earlier than his/her scheduled time. St. Margaret’s Center staff and volunteers will check participants’ I.D.’s at the Registration Desk, give them their name tags (with their scheduled time printed on them), grocery certificates, and their applications to take upstairs. Check to see if the family participated last year (it will say on the back of their application); if not, and they are also unfamiliar with the program, explain to them how it works. Give them a grocery gift card and tell them to keep it in a safe place. Each child will receive a wrist band that they will exchange for a goody bag as they leave the event. After registering, families will take the elevator or stairs up to the 1st floor, and will descend the same way when they leave.
"Escort I's" will greet the families, take the application and clipboard, a pen, and large plastic bags for the toys, and drop off the children with volunteers in the children's area to the right.They will then guide the parents through the toy rooms to the left. Escorts should have a good time with the parents---chat with them, and help them feel comfortable with leaving their children, and picking out their toys. As the parents choose their toys (one "A" toy and two "B" toys per child. The “A” tables are marked with a “Boy” or “Girl” sign; the “B” table has no sign), the Escort will check off the child's name. (Note: checking off the names is very important!) If the parent says that there is another child that's not on their application, or nieces/nephews, grandchildren, etc. do not let them take more toys. Each family has been screened, and they themselves gave us the information on family members. If they are insistent, or there is any other problem, please see Mary Agnes of St. Margaret's Center, or any other event supervisor. After the parent has all the toys, the Escort will take them to the Wrapping Room to have their gifts wrapped. Some of the parents have never had the experience of having their gifts wrapped for them, and may seem hesitant. You will need to encourage them. (If they are in a hurry, they don't have to have them wrapped). The Escort will then leave the parent, and take the application back to the entrance, and get the next application.

The volunteers in the Toy Rooms will display approximately 20 toys each on both the "Girl" Table and the "Boy" Table (except for the 0-3 year olds, which are unisex). There will also be a "B" table that will be unisex. The "A" toys are more expensive toys. If you notice a toy in the "A" bag or box of lesser value (generally less than about $10), you can move it to the "B" Table. Make sure that there are a variety of toys, and continuously put out new toys as needed. (NOTE: most of the bags have an assortment of toys, but there are some boxes with the same toys. Make sure to include these as well, throughout the day). Don't put out all the bigger items in the morning, in fairness to the afternoon crowd!). If a parent wants a toy for their child that's on the other gender's table, that is o.k. Don't put more than 2 or 3 of the exact same item on the table at a time. Some of the toys may have to be explained to the parent (or to the Escort, for translation to the parent), as they may not be familiar with them. If a parent chooses a gift bag with a gift certificate in it, check the bag to see that the certificate is there before the parent leaves the room. Toy room volunteers can have fun with their job by acting as "salespersons", talking up the particular virtues of the toys, with the parents. Parents without an escort (escorts always have clipboards) may not receive toys or exchange toys!

The volunteers in the Wrapping Room will wrap the gifts. Make sure to use the least amount of paper necessary, to ensure that we have enough for the entire day. Have the parents write out the gift tag while the present is being wrapped. If the parent can't write, and is monolingual Spanish, find someone who is bilingual to make out the gift tags, if you aren't sure how to write the names. The parents can then put the presents back in the bags. Signal the coordinator of the wrapping room when you are finished. Volunteers should also continuously monitor the cleanliness of the wrapping area, throwing away scraps of paper, paper tubes, etc., so that the atmosphere is clean and festive for the parents.

Supervisors/Children's Party will monitor the auditorium to ensure that it does not become too congested or exceed the maximum occupancy rate. They will help move families out of the auditorium after they've participated in the activities. They will know which families have been there the longest by the time on their nametags. If the families are not moving out quickly enough, they will communicate with the volunteers at the registration desk to suspend admitting more families until others have left. They will check to see that families aren’t “parked” for long periods of time at the eating tables. They will let Nancy, Mary Agnes, or Florence know if more volunteers are needed for any of the children's activities. This system will allow flexibility, instead of having a set time for all the families to arrive and leave. This is important as some families will move through quickly (e.g., those with only 1 or 2 children, or those parents arriving without any children) and others will take longer.

The Gatekeepers at the entrance to the children's party will match up the younger children with Buddies who will stay with the children and take them to the various activities while their parents are away, and help get them food.  Keep siblings together. It is important to make the children feel comfortable. (Remember that some of the children, especially the younger ones, may speak only Spanish---if you can't communicate with them, find a bilingual volunteer to help out!) Watch out for younger children to make sure that they are not suffering separation anxiety!..If a child is inconsolable, you will need to have an adult volunteer take him/her to find the parent. Watch for the children’s belongings (sweaters, coats, etc.) so that they don’t get lost. The buddies will stay with the children until their parents return, and take them to each activity: arts & crafts, Santa, refreshments, games, magician, facepainting, etc. Encourage children to throw away their trash after eating. Don’t leave the children until they are re-united with their parents. Buddies will also alternate as Escort 2’s, who will take parents from the wrapping room when they are finished, and guide them back to their children. They can stay in the back or sides of the room with the bags of toys while the parents find their children. Ask the parents if they would like to help themselves to refreshments. If the children are not finished, leave the toys with the parents, and tell them to keep the bags with them at all times.

The volunteers at the Children's Party can do face-painting, help with arts and crafts, read Christmas stories, and assist with refreshments and games. Also, please help with ensuring that the room is free of trash from the refreshments.

Refreshments will be provided behind the bar. Volunteers will heat up the hot dogs, make popcorn, serve drinks and any other foods that are available, and replenish the condiments. Volunteers should also monitor the area in front of the bar for cleanliness, mop up spills, etc. Will notify supervisors when supplies are low. Volunteers will ensure that family members receive only one of each item.

Hospitality Crew will monitor the children’s party, especially the food area, and including the hallway and arts and crafts room for cleanliness. Volunteers will have brooms and other materials at their disposal, and will contact the Hospitality Coordinator when the trash should be emptied, etc. The area should look as sparkling for the afternoon kids as the first arrivals in the morning.

Goody Bag Table will be downstairs at the exit as families leave. Each child will receive a goody bag, and will choose his/her own book as they leave the party with their parents. Two volunteers will be stationed at the goody bag table to distribute them, replenish the table, and remove the wrist band of each child that receives one.

Security will guard the entrances to the stadium to make sure that the children do not go into that area. It is a racing day, and the races will be going on throughout the afternoon. If the children would like to go closer to see the track, they must be with their parents. They will not be allowed by themselves, or with a volunteer. Security will also help downstairs at registration, at the stairwells and at the elevator.

The restrooms are located at the bottom of the staircase, on the side of the room closest to the track.  Children will only be allowed in the restroom area with a parent or volunteer. 

Volunteers at the Exit Door will check the nametags to make sure the children and parents match, and will help escort the families out to the elevator or down the stairs.

There will be a volunteer check-in desk, and all volunteers will wear hats and a volunteer nametag. Volunteers can help themselves to refreshments at any time, and should make sure to take breaks when tired. Talk to Mary Agnes, Nancy, or Florence if you need another volunteer to fill in while you take the break. Two Volunteer Coordinators will direct volunteers to appropriate activities, and maintain the sign-in sheet.

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