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Organizing Helping Hands

A Vermont community creates a website to keep track of their charitable efforts.

By Kathleen Laramee, Burlington, Vermont

As appeared in

People in my community here in Burlington, Vermont, are always quick to lend a hand. When a new family moved in with a baby on the way, we organized a meal train (that’s what we call the steady supply of meals and support we’d be giving the newcomers).

I was the point person, communicating with the family and the volunteer meal givers. A fun job but a logistical challenge at times.

Volunteers frequently asked the same questions: What do they like? Any allergies? How many should I cook for? What have they had already? The family, too, would sometimes contact me to make a last-minute change.

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“There has to be a better way to coordinate a meal train,” my husband, Michael, said.

We searched online but couldn’t find a website that met our needs. “My old college roommate is a software developer,” Michael told me. “I bet he could help you.”

That was three years—and more than 600,000 meals—ago. Mealtrain.com has helped tens of thousands organize community support for people following births, surgeries, illnesses, deployments…you name it. Now it’s even easier to be a good neighbor, here in Burlington or anywhere you live.


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