TUPELO • Northeast Mississippi nonprofits will share their missions and request volunteers during the virtual edition of the Volunteer Northeast Mississippi’s Nonprofit Fair, Thursday.

Volunteer Northeast Mississippi, an organization that helps partner volunteers with area nonprofits, will post videos detailing their missions and needs to their website, www.volunteerms.org, on Sept. 17. Between 40 and 50 nonprofits are taking part.

Volunteer Northeast Mississippi Director Rebecca Nelson and United Way of Northeast Mississippi Communications Director Robin McKinney will also host a Facebook Live event at 3 p.m. and again at 8 p.m. to answer questions and draw door prizes.

“We want to make volunteering as accessible to as many people as we can. We want everyone to be involved to whatever extent they feel is safe and still meaningful to them,” Nelson said.

Videos will vary in length and detail how the featured nonprofits benefit the community and the ways in which people can become involved with them. The videos will remain on the webpage, so those who can’t “attend” can view them at their convenience.

Nelson described the virtual fair as a good way for participants to get information on nonprofits without leaving their houses.

“It’s hard to know where to get started. You know you want to help, you know you want to make a difference, you just don’t know how to do that, so we’re hopefully going to be able to walk people through those steps and show them how to use the volunteer hub to their advantage,” Nelson said.

While COVID-19 has presented some challenges to volunteering, many nonprofit organizations are still in need of volunteers. Food pantries, many of which have operated at full-capacity or taken on additional clients during COVID-19, still require in-person volunteers. Other organizations are requesting volunteers to assist from home. Some organizations are requesting donations of specific highly needed products, like car seats for Parkgate Clinic.

This is the second nonprofit fair Volunteer Northeast Mississippi has hosted in as many years. Last year’s fair had approximately 200 attendees, primarily residents of Lee County. Since Volunteer Northeast Mississippi represents nonprofits in 13 counties, Nelson hopes this year’s virtual format allows them to reach some areas that are farther away, such as Benton or Calhoun counties.

“In order for our communities to be as strong as they possibly can, we need everybody’s help, whether it’s a paid position or an unpaid position,” Nelson said. “Volunteers provide unbelievable support and they are an integral part of the success of the nonprofits.”

Planning for the virtual fair began in August. To make the process easier, nonprofits signed up for 15-minute time slots and recorded their videos in early September. Any nonprofits that did not make a video but want to take part can do so by contacting Nelson as soon as possible, preferably before 5 p.m. Tuesday, by emailing her at rebecca@unitedwaynems.org.

Safety was the primary concern, but Nelson hopes the change to a virtual format will help area nonprofits cut travel expenses. During the Facebook Live event, Nelson and McKinney will ask attendees to check in from their different counties and regions.

She also invites any nonprofits who weren’t able to submit a video to tune in to share information about their specific volunteer needs.

“We just want everyone to come to the virtual event and learn a little bit more about how they can be part of the solution,” Nelson said. “We want them to know how they can make a difference.”


Twitter: @Danny_McArthur_

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