The Times West Virginian

April 10, 2014

Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community

Times West Virginian

— Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.

Marion County is full of volunteers.

They read to our youth.

They assist nonprofit agencies.

They serve on boards and committees.

And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.

Volunteers will head to local communities again this weekend as they take part in the third annual Make Marion County Shine event.

It’s work that is vital to making the area look its absolute best, according to organizers.

“Two years ago, I looked at all the trash and thought, ‘This is disgusting,’” said Jackie Fitch, one of the event organizers. “The first year, we picked up 3 1/2 tons of trash. Last year, we picked up almost 10 tons.”

Take a minute to focus on that number. Ten tons. That’s nearly 20,000 pounds of garbage that had been making our communities unsightly to not only the residents who live here, but also those people who travel to the area for business, to visit family or simply for recreational opportunities.

Thankfully, volunteers at last year’s event realized the impact all that “disgusting” trash was having on the area. So they teamed up to clean it up.

Make Marion County Shine works with the West Virginia Make It Shine program, which is run by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. The statewide cleanup annually takes place during the first two weeks of April when volunteers across West Virginia pick up garbage that has been left on public property.

Locally, Saturday’s event begins at 8 a.m. Supplies such as gloves and bags are provided to participants, and lunch will be provided to the volunteers as well.

The Marion County event also coincides with National Volunteer Week, a week designed to inspire, recognize and encourage people to seek imaginative ways to engage in their communities.

As President Barack Obama said earlier this week, performing acts of service helps us shape a nation big enough and bold enough to accommodate everybody’s hopes. He issued a proclamation asking people to volunteer in service projects across the country and pledge to make service part of their daily lives.

“Across our country, volunteers open doors of opportunity, pave avenues of success, fortify their communities and lay the foundation for tomorrow’s growth and prosperity,” Obama said. “They are often equipped with few resources and gain little recognition, yet because of their service, our country is a better and a stronger force for good.”

This year marks the 40th anniversary of National Volunteer Week. Whether they’re serving on area boards or picking up litter tossed along our roads and waterways, volunteers — and their impact — are priceless.

Events like Make Marion County Shine are the perfect example of why the act of volunteering is so important. When everyone rolls up their sleeves and pitches in, we all win.