April is National Volunteer Month and Hands on Thomas County (HOTC) is gearing up with a team of volunteers and agencies to celebrate the services and volunteers who help make good things happen in the community.
The week of April 19-26, also known as HOTC Volunteer Week, is about celebrating volunteers and service.
Angela Kiminas, executive director of HOTC, said, “When people volunteer, they are not only helping those in need, they are bettering themselves. HOTC believes it’s important to volunteer in our community to help make it the kind of place and people we can all be proud of. It is important to recognize those who give of their time and skills through volunteer service, to give inspiration to others. That’s what Volunteer Week is all about.”
There are many ways the community can get involved and give back. One way HOTC is giving back to the community is by hosting a collection drive.
The local human service organizations are in need of basic health care supplies for their clients who have been displaced from their homes. Some of the items needed for the care packages include travel size toiletries (soap, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste and deodorant), washcloths, toothbrushes and disposable razors.
Individuals and groups may drop off donations to the HOTC office at 312 N. Broad St. during the week.
These items will be donated to service agencies such as Family Enrichment Group, Halcyon Home and the Red Cross.
The volunteers come from many different organizations, groups and agencies.
Lt. Col. Stann McCleod, the Thomasville High School AFJROTC instructor, and his cadets volunteer when opportunities arise.
The cadets were at the Great American Clean Up on Saturday and will be at the Community Education Garden today. Each year, the cadets are active volunteers who help out at various project sites and event at least four times per year. They were also nominated in the group category of the Hand On Heroes Volunteer Award Program.
McCleod considered volunteering to be “Service Before Self,” which is a second core value of the USAF.
“A large part of integrity involves doing for others without getting the praise or glory because it is simply the right thing to do. Volunteering is about investing oneself for the sake of others in order that our community and our nation will be a better place in which to work, play and worship,” said McCleod.
He also commented that volunteering takes a caring attitude, self-sacrifice and a strong work ethic.
He said, “For AFJROTC, it also takes teamwork to participate in a volunteering project, and teamwork is a vital part of what service to our great nation is about.”
Emerging Young Leaders of the Thomasville City Schools were also involved with the Great American Clean Up. They are a recurring volunteers for the event.
Two of the agencies taking an active volunteering effort in the community are Keep Thomas County Beautiful and Second Harvest.
Keep Thomas County Beautiful worked with the Great American Clean Up on Saturday and will work in the Community Education Garden today.
Pam Lister, executive director of Keep Thomas County Beautiful, believes volunteering and cleaning up the community has a positive social and economic impact on Thomasville.
She said, “Keeping the community clean has a social impact on the area because if an area is taken care of crime rates are lower and the neighborhood property values will be higher.”
Through May, Keep Thomas County Beautiful will be signing up volunteers for community cleanup activities. Volunteers can sign up for the Great American Clean Up at www.ktcb.org.
“Volunteering is a beautiful thing because our volunteers are making a huge impact on making Thomasville beautiful,” said Lister.
Second Harvest partnered with Project Backyard for the “Manna Drop” on Saturday. It will also have a volunteer work day on Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Danny Dukes of Second Harvest gives back everyday to the needy, which gives him a good feeling about helping others.
He said, “Giving back to the community is important. The community is what keeps us going. After volunteering, we can go home at night feeling good. Community is family, so we are helping family.”
Since Volunteer Week is about recognizing and thanking volunteers, appreciation stations have been set up. During the week, certain businesses will be offering “thank yous” to HOTC volunteers. Appreciation Station sponsors include Downtown Thomasville Visitors Center, Blue Bell Creameries and Grassroots Coffee.
Spencer Young from Grassroots Coffee is happy to be helping out with HOTC Volunteer Week.
He said, “Volunteering is key to community, and we are glad we can help encourage volunteering in Thomasville.”
To celebrate the volunteers’ hard work, HOTC will be holding its first “Cheers for Volunteers Reception” where it will announce its first volunteer awards. Hands On Heroes will recognize outstanding student, individual and group volunteer efforts.
For more information on HOTC Volunteer Week and how you can volunteer at specific sites, visit www.HandsOnThomasCounty.org and sign up online by clicking on Events Calendar.
Reporter Susanne Reynolds can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1826.