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Volunteers saluted

From left, Clara Wilson, Evelyn Winborne, Viviane Barnes and Johanna Collins were just four of the 73 volunteers who attended Thursday’s “Puttin’ on the Dog,” an annual volunteer appreciation event held in Jackson. Staff Photo by Amanda VanDerBroek

JACKSON — Volunteers often spend their time giving selflessly to others within their community.

However, the tables were turned on Thursday night as it was all about volunteers in Northampton County as they gathered at the annual “Puttin’ on the Dog” banquet.

According to Debby Warren, Director for Northampton County Office on Aging, the dinner is held each year to show appreciation for those who give their time to county programs.

“It’s a salute to the volunteers,” she said. “This year our theme is ‘Christmas in June,’ we’re having a tropical themed Christmas.”

Music, a meal and door prizes within the presence of neon palm trees and a wild pink Christmas tree was just a sampling of the gratitude shown towards the approximately 73 volunteers that attended.

Approximately 200 volunteers help with the delivery of county programs from the Office on Aging, J.W. Faison Senior Center, Cooperative Extension and the Health Department’s Home Delivered Meals program. Department heads agree those programs would be obsolete without the help of their volunteers. The USDA Food Distribution program, operated through Warren’s office, serves 450 people.

“We couldn’t run a lot of our programs without volunteers,” said Warren.

Rebecca Bayse, Director at the Senior Center, said volunteers assist her with many aspects, including fundraisers, activities, teaching programs and recruitment.

“We wouldn’t have services without volunteers,” she said. “We just appreciate them and we wish would could do this several times a year.”

Health Department Director Sue Gay and Nancy Gunnells know the importance of volunteers as they are vital to the Home Delivered Meal program.

“I cannot say enough of how important volunteers are,” said Gay.

Gunnells, who coordinates the volunteers for the program, said Home Delivered Meals is based solely on volunteerism.

“It’s just a great bunch of people,” Gunnells said. “It’s just dedicated people out to help humanity.”

Caroline Brown, Cooperative Extension 4-H Agent, said volunteers help with a variety of activities for youth, especially when it comes to 4-H. Brown said many of the volunteers are teenagers who help out with 4-H and those younger volunteers are what often inspire the younger children.

“A lot of the younger kids think it’s cool when they see a teen wanting to spend time with them,” she said.

The volunteers say their efforts are simple in nature-they want to help.

Clara Wilson, Evelyn Winborne, Viviane Barnes and Johanna Collins all assist with the USDA Food Distribution.

Collins said she volunteers simply to help people while Wilson, Winborne and Barnes believe in helping those that often cannot help themselves.

Barnes noted that some of the people served by the volunteer run programs are homebound.

Wilson agreed.

“A lot of the services we provide people could not get without money,” she said.

For more information about volunteering for county programs, Warren can be contacted at (252) 534-1668, Bayse at (252) 534-1012, Gay or Gunnells at (252) 534-5841 and Brown at (252) 534-2711.