We don’t just operate inside our YMCA walls – we are engaged in our communities. The Y is a powerful association of men, women and children joined together by a shared commitment to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility. We believe that lasting personal and social change can only come about when we all work together to invest in our kids, our health and our neighbors. Join the Y in making an impact in the community.
BRIGHT BEGINNINGS BECAUSE . . .HAVING THE RIGHT STUFF TO START SCHOOL MEANS MORE SUCCESS WITH LEARNING.
Here at the Y, we know kids! In fact, we stand for youth development. All of our youth programs have the goal in mind of supporting parents’ needs to raise strong, healthy, well-rounded children.
YMCA Bright Beginnings is a community outreach program that provides children in need with the new clothes and school supplies needed to start the school year with confidence and excitement. Now they can concentrate on learning and making friends and look forward to each school day.
The Y organizes planned shopping days and volunteers to shop one-on-one with a child. After a fun bus ride – in typical Y-fashion, singing and cheering are a must – the kids meet their volunteer shopper, eat a healthy breakfast, and then head out to find shirts, pants, shoes, socks, underwear and coat. And at the end of the day, the kids receive a backpack filled with school supplies. Volunteers for this program often come back year after year because they see first-hand the difference they are making. If this sounds like something you’d like to be involved with, here’s how you can help:
Becoming a Bright Beginnings Shopping Buddy requires no more than a ready smile, less than three hours of your time, and the desire to help a child. Individuals and small groups are always welcome. Take an active role in nurturing the potential of our youth and volunteer this August!
Make a Donation
There is no cost to the child’s family to participate. We count on the generosity of individuals, organizations and corporations and we are determined to send 300 children from the Rappahannock Area YMCA service area shopping this August. But we need your help. All donations are greatly appreciated; sponsoring 10 children ($1,500) or even just one or two children at $150 each, makes a difference.
Be a Backpack Buddy
Each child who shops with YMCA Bright Beginnings receives a backpack filled with grade-appropriate school supplies. Your business or organization can partner with a specific YMCA branch and fill backpacks according to our school systems’ supply lists for children in grades K-2 or 3-5. Backpacks are provided to children who participate on a shopping trip, children on our waiting list, and other community children in need.
How it Works
Before school starts in September, the Y takes eligible children, who have been identified through partnering organizations, shopping for school clothes. Children meet at the Y on their assigned shopping date. Y staff takes them to a local store where they are paired with a volunteer shopping buddy. Together, the child and shopping buddy shop for two outfits, shoes, socks, underwear and a warm sweater or jacket. They also share a meal and, if time allows, read a story, play a game, or color together. Backpacks, filled with grade-appropriate school supplies, are provided for each child. Shopping buddies escort the children back to the bus and say goodbye.
Each YMCA branch has their own event this summer. To see the dates and details of each:
Please contact Elizabeth Taylor 540-775-9622 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how you can give back and support our youngest neighbors.
Giving, Learning and Acceptance Gardens
In 2013 we started “The Giving Garden” at the Massad Family YMCA with a grant from The CarMax Foundation. The garden was 30 ft. x 30 ft., wheelchair accessible, with raised beds and a garden shed. In 2014 we began a garden expansion to increase the size to 60 ft. x 60 ft., added additional raised beds, fencing and a small greenhouse, thanks to money donations from NextCare, discounts from Lowe’s, and donated time from Eagle Scout Troop 1410. In 2015 we will be completing our expansion project by adding more raised beds and trees as well as adding a “Sensory Garden” area inside “The Giving Garden”. It will be in raised beds with: bright colored items and interesting shaped plants to look at, different textured plants to feel, plants and garden objects that make sound, have various plants with a scent and plants to taste. Also in 2015, a second garden was added to our Ron Rosner Family YMCA and is named “The Learning Garden”. In 2016 Caroline Family YMCA added the “Acceptance Garden”.
The Giving Garden has been a big success. Our garden has promoted healthy eating and access to nutritious, organic foods while learning gardening skills and the stages of growing produce from seed to feed and back again in our youth and special needs programs. The financial assistance families in our youth programs are able to eat healthy produce from our garden. We also have been learning about giving by donating healthy produce to The Fredericksburg Area Food Bank, Hazel Hill and Stafford Junction throughout the growing season. On Fridays, during the growing season from 10-1, we offer a “Free Produce” table in the main lobby of the Massad Family YMCA.