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November and December 2020 Volunteer Opportunities with Penn VIPS

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Each year, Penn’s Volunteers in Public Service (VIPS) organizes holiday drives to collect donations to support local families and agencies. Although COVID-19 has posed significant challenges to our daily lives, Penn faculty and staff volunteers will continue to have a positive impact during the holidays. Please join them to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors and minimize the impact of COVID-19.

Here are three opportunities to share holiday cheer with local families, coordinated by Penn VIPS.

Holiday Food Drive, November 2 – November 16

In the season of thanks and giving, please contribute to the Annual Food Drive to provide wholesome Thanksgiving fare. Instead of bringing food to campus for collection, please contact your school or center’s Dropsite Committee member listed below. They will provide a list of agencies and organizations who will be accepting your contact-free donations. You may also use services like Amazon to deliver items directly to the agency.

Holiday Giving with Penn Volunteers in Public Service, November 17 – December 12

As you buy toys and presents for the holiday season, please consider spreading extra cheer to neighbors in need through the Annual Penn Volunteers in Public Service Holiday Drive.

All items for the holiday drive must be new and unwrapped.

For contact-free donation delivery instructions, refer to the Penn VIPS contact list at the end of this article. They will provide a list of agencies and others who will be accepting your non-contact donations. Online retailers can be used to send items directly to aid agencies.

Penn VIPS Adopt a Family Program

The Adopt a Family program is a gratifying opportunity for your department or team to give directly to a specific family in the Philadelphia area. The adoption is usually done in lieu of departmental gift exchanges. The assigned family is treated to presents and sometimes holiday dinner in December. Assignments are made during and prior to mid-December.

Your department chooses the size of the family they would like to adopt. Participating departments will be provided with the names and address of the family, or the family may wish to remain anonymous. Departments may request a "wish list" from the family or they may choose their own gifts for the family members. Departments choose the number and types of gifts they will provide. Departments are provided with size of the family, names, ages and sizes of each family member.

Your department has many options for divvying up the gift gathering for the adopted family. For example, you may pool resources to purchase a gift card, elect one person in your department to shop and deliver your online purchases to the family, or allow individuals in your department to choose their own gifts to send directly to the family.

Families are selected from clients of the Baring House Family Service Agency, People’s Emergency Shelter, and other local agencies and shelters. A small number of referrals are also accepted. Families participate in the program on a one-time basis.

To adopt a family, contact Isabel Sampson-Mapp at Netter Center for Community Partnerships at

Click HERE for Dropsite Committee Members.