Thanks to volunteers

Nice to see some volunteers getting well deserved recognition

Recently the Sault Star had a full colour page dedicated to thanking the volunteers who were involved in the Santa fund. “These special volunteers … helped us collect over $112,300 for Christmas Cheer! Exceeding our goal of $100,000.”

Christmas Cheer Convenor Diane Marshall and the volunteers at the depot were also recognized as “hard working elves that work their magic to help the ones in need.”

In a letter to the editor a week earlier, Marshall lauded the efforts of the Firefighters and local Militia, thanked businesses for loaning equipment, and recognized the “Stuff a Bus” and “Greyhounds’ Teddy Bear Toss.” She also recognized knitters who donate mittens and scarves, and her “Senior Elves” at the Christmas Cheer depot, among others.

The individuals and businesses involved should be commended. The majority of volunteers are there only to help and/or be useful, not for the recognition. In spite of this, the public recognition was well deserved.

Case in point, for the Santa Fund, several donors chose to do so anonymously. Just giving was enough for them.

While some people may now say I’m confusing donations with volunteerism, suffice it to say that anyone that gives their time or money is important – though I would like to especially acknowledge those that give their time.

We tried to get that point across to the kids this year as well. We went to the Christmas Cheer depot to drop off donations one day, and then on the day of the truck loading, before school, we all did a little heavy lifting to help get presents and food boxes onto the trucks.

It was truly heartwarming and amazing to see how many volunteers were hard at work before 8:30am. The food room was a hive of activity. Volunteers buzzed from station to station; everyone had their task – fruit sorters, potato fetchers, turkey or chicken grabbers.

Every age group was represented from school-aged kids to senior citizens. It struck me how many volunteer jobs at all levels are available for anyone interested in getting involved!

Before we knew it, we’d filled the required quota and boxes were stacked according to region in the city.

Next it was truck loading time. A different group of volunteers, mainly active and retired firefighters and some MNR conservation officers were proving the adage “many hands make light work.”

We were accepted into the line of hands that passed boxes from person to person, and quickly began emptying the room stacked high with boxes; truck load by truck load. I’d also like to note that there were Shaw trucks and military vehicles among those that volunteered vehicles and drivers.

Speaking of firefighters, that reminds me of another volunteer event that is probably unknown to the community. Every year the Firefighters of Local 529 put on a Christmas party for children with Muscular Dystrophy. It’s a heartwarming event with a nice meal (at the Moose Lodge) followed by a visit from Santa. One boy I spoke to was thrilled to get a gift card for Walmart because he would be able to buy parts for his remote control car that he races.

Everyone was having a great time from where I was sitting. The firefighters involved in the event, now chaired by Dave Kochanowski, should be applauded, along with those that helped to make the dinner possible from behind the scenes as well.

There are so many events that wouldn’t happen without volunteers, and you don’t have to stop long to think about just how many ways volunteers touch our lives and our communities.

As the Olympics approach, anyone involved in sports knows that our kids would have limited opportunities to get involved if it weren’t for volunteer coaches, assistants, and coordinators.

The same goes for activities like the FIRST® LEGO® League, where three city teams made it to the Provincials in Waterloo, and one of the teams, The Rosedale Fury Fighters, got an honourable mention for the Core Values component of the competition. Without dedicated parents, like Kim Barnes, our children wouldn’t even have known such opportunities existed.

Volunteers are often the unsung heroes of our communities. It’s great to see the Sault Star giving a full page to recognize some of these vital volunteers.

Thank you to all of the volunteers that help to shape this community!

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