Say thanks to local volunteers

They take time out of their busy schedules to lend a hand and expect nothing in return. “They” are the tireless, hard working volunteers, who are invaluable to any nonprofit, charity or organization.  So what better way to thank Canada’s 12.7 million volunteers than to dedicate a week to those who give of their time selflessly to help others.

The 13th annual National Volunteer Week is Apr. 10 to 16, celebrating the fact that one in three Canadians is a volunteer. Those interested in ways to offer a token of gratitude to the good people who help out can visit volunteer.ca/nvw2016. It is there in their gift store that one can acquire all-natural seed paper or postcards, which include space to add a personalized thank you message to a volunteer. The idea is these items can be planted in a backyard, and sprout, symbolizing how they help an organization grow.

Meanwhile, in our figurative backyard, volunteers and others who help the community will be publicly honoured at a special presentation this month.

The Character Community Foundation of York Region will be presenting the tenth annual York Region Character Community Awards, Apr. 27 at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts.

The organization’s stated mission is to engage individuals and organizations in positive character development. This year there will be some 150 nominees. The awards have recognized more than 1,200 nominees since the ceremony’s inception.

The awards recognize individuals, schools, groups and businesses that demonstrate exemplary attributes in compassion, courage, respect and other traits.

Last year, Laura Meffen from Markham was one of the winners, in the category of Citizen of Character. As a mother of a special needs child, Laura advocates as the Equity and Inclusivity Chair, on the James Robinson Public School Council.

“As a stay at home mom, you’re stuck at home. But by volunteering you can develop friendships and work skills you can use out in the workforce. It helps you grow as a person. It gives you a positive feeling when you do something for other people.”

Stouffville’s Kathy Wilkinson has volunteered two or three days a week at the Stouffville Public Library since 2007 as a committee member for their annual book sale. She agrees there is mutual benefit when people donate their time.

“I have learned in this day and age when everyone is on the run and never enough time to get everything done, there are still a lot of good people out there willing to help,” she said. “Time is one of the most precious commodities there is and to use your time to help someone else is good. “Places like the library and food bank cannot afford to pay for all that help so it is a win-win for all involved.

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