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Houstonians can help their community amid COVID-19 on a virtual 'day of action'

Help out your fellow Houstonian on this Day of Action on Friday, June 26. Getty Images

The renewed spread of COVID-19 and its adverse effects on individuals and communities has sparked a desire in many to give back. But just how to do so has been confounding in this era of social distancing.

To the rescue comes the United Way of Greater Houston, which is hosting a virtual "Day of Action" volunteer event to support those in need. Those who participate in the Friday, June 26, event can complete volunteer projects from the comfort of their home at little to no cost, according to a press release.

All participants will receive a project guide prior to the event with details for each project and can join a kickoff webinar on the morning of June 26.

Volunteer projects fall into the following categories:

Disaster response
Notes of encouragement for essential workers; hurricane preparedness kits; and care cards for seniors or families living in shelters.

Basic needs
Assembly of breakfast bags for homebound senior citizens or snack packs for students who rely on school resources for meals; activity kits to keep seniors engaged and busy while remaining isolated due to COVID-19.

Summer learning
Assembly of family game kits and summer activity kits to keep families and children beat boredom and stay mentally engaged during time off from school; donation of books and design of a printable bookmark for each donated book.

To view available projects and register, visit the Day of Action site.

When the projects are completed, participants are asked to deliver the finished item to a suggested nonprofit organization in their community by July 3.

"Now more than ever, families and individuals in our region need support as they face the unknown due to COVID-19," said Emily Faron, manager at United Way of Greater Houston, in a statement. "The Day of Action is a great way to not only give back to those in need, but understand what United way does year-round to support our community's most vulnerable."

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

Moonflower Farms grows lettuce hydroponically. Courtesy of Moonflower Farms

A Houston urban farm has earned national recognition for its innovative approach to water conservation. Moonflower Farms won the American Heart Association's Foodscape Innovation Excellence Award, which recognizes positive changes in the foodscape, a term for all of the places where food is produced, purchased, or consumed.

The Heart Association selected Moonflower's submission, titled "Sustainable Farming Through Water Conservation," from 26 entries. Dallas' Restorative Farms earns the Foodscape Innovation Consumer Choice Award.

"These two innovations demonstrate a way of producing food that promotes affordability and equitable access, and the American Heart Association is proud to recognize these efforts," AHA chief medical officer for prevention Eduardo Sanchez said in a release.

Located in a 20,000-square-foot greenhouse south of downtown, Moonflower operates what it describes as Houston's first vertical indoor farm. The method both reduces the amount of space needed to grow the farm's microgreens, lettuces, herbs and edible flowers and it eliminates the disruptions caused by adverse weather conditions, which allows the farm to produce year round.

Moonflower uses a closed-loop system for capturing rainwater to feed its crops. The water is treated and oxygenated so that it can be reused. Not having to pay for water from the City of Houston allows the farm to operate more economically and sell its produce at an affordable price to restaurants and individuals.

"Our hydroponic farm uses 90-percent less water than conventional farms," Moonflower founder and CEO Federico Marques said in a statement. "We provide year-round produce to residents in historically underserved communities and donate produce to local charitable food systems."

One of those charities is Houston non-profit Second Servings, which "rescues" food from restaurants and events and distributes it to food pantries and other resources.

"The donations we receive from Moonflower Farms are incredible," Second Servings founder and president Barbara Bronstein said. "Their hydroponically grown greens are so appreciated by the needy Houstonians we serve, who lack affordable, convenient access to fresh produce."

Recently, Moonflower introduced a SupaGreens subscription box that allows customers to purchase greens weekly, bimonthly, or monthly. The box is delivered directly to consumers.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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