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Holiday programs put out call for volunteers

11/28/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Volunteers are shown wrapping gifts at an event for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Western Reserve.
Photo courtesy of United Way of Summit County
GREATER AKRON — Local residents looking for a way to give back during the holidays can turn to the Volunteer Center at the United Way of Summit County for opportunities.

And while many might be interested in helping the less fortunate, there are also nonprofits seeking assistance as they conduct popular holiday events, said Andrea Metzler, director of the Volunteer Center.

“You have adopt-a-family and adopt-a-child opportunities and lots of gathering food and delivering it to agencies, but there’s a lot less of actual food service, say on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day,” Metzler said. “Those are fairly rare. Churches and places that do that on a regular basis have a good staple of volunteers for that, but there’s plenty of other stuff out there.”

This year, among the events seeking volunteer help are the Sugar Plum Tour, which takes place Dec. 8, and Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens’ Deck the Hall, ongoing from Nov. 29 to Dec. 30.

“What’s really cool is you get to be involved with holiday décor and the Christmas vibe and holiday sprit,” Metzler said.

The Sugar Plum Tour, a fundraiser for the Gay Community Fund of Akron Community Foundation, allows tour-goers to see five Akron area homes decked out for the holidays. Volunteers are needed to monitor the flow of visitors at tour stops. [For more on that event, see Page 18.]

Stan Hywet also needs volunteers to help with tours, as well as in the café and shop there. [For more on that event, see Page 34.]

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s Polar Express train rides also need volunteers to portray elves and other characters, while the Summit County Historical Society seeks help for its Akron History Exhibit at Lock 3 Park.

OPEN M and the Salvation Army each have several ways that volunteers can support their efforts this year, from packing food boxes and shopping to distributing items and Red Kettle bell ringing.

Adopt-a-family and adopt-a-child opportunities are available for individuals, families or groups this year through ACCESS, the Battered Women’s Shelter of Summit and Medina Counties, Child Guidance and Family Solutions, Freedom House for Women, OPEN M and Summit County Children Services.

In addition, Stewart’s Caring Place, a free cancer resource center in Fairlawn, and the Victim Assistance Program, which provides support to families of homicide victims, are also seeking volunteers to adopt families that are in need of support due to the loss of a family member.

“It’s pretty meaningful to be able to help those people and take a weight off their shoulders,” Metzler said.

A list of holiday volunteer opportunities is available at www.uwsummit.org. In addition, the Volunteer Center can be reached at 330-643-5512, and Metzler can send a list of current opportunities to those who request it.

Those who use the website and choose a volunteer need to fill will have their information automatically forwarded to the requesting agency, and they will be contacted, Metzler said.

She added that new opportunities are being added as they are submitted, so those who are interested should check the list regularly.

In addition, she noted the need for volunteers is out there 12 months a year, not just during the holidays.

“We hope people are not forgetting about us in January, February and the springtime,” she said. “There’s plenty of needs throughout the rest of the year, as well.”

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