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Rick Mansfield

“’SODA’—LITED YOU’RE MY VOLUNTEER!” was written on a piece of paper attached to a bottle of A & W Cream Soda and given to me last Thursday evening at the Corp of Engineers Volunteer Dinner at Wappapello.  We had been invited because of my presenting as Henry R. Schoolcraft at Old Greenville Days for the first time.  Somehow, this event, and this dinner, had never been on my radar.

Becky Hayes, of the Corps, presented probably two-dozen such awards during her time of the event.  A Payday candy-bar for a volunteer they are “nuts” about.  The little cheese goldfish crackers to another that was o-“fish”-ially great.  One pun after another, it could be easily said, “Pun was had by all!”

I had met Becky at the Old Greenville event.  Seems she has a grandpa named Mansfield.  I really hope that somehow, I can claim kin to this energetic and enterprising lady.  She represents this government agency well.  All the Corps people I met last evening seemed to truly appreciate the volunteers.

And there were many.  In the fields of Interpretation, Maintenance, Hosting, etc.  And all had done so much more than my mere three days of dress-up.  I was humbled by their contributions; surprised I was included for awards.  I thought we were just getting a pleasant drive and a free meal.  Had originally hoped to had brought my boat and fished; somehow, I am staying too busy for that.

Many of our governmental institutions—from Federal to local—would not survive without volunteers.  At the least, would not offer as many services.  From docents in museums to firefighters in our communities; volunteers range from increasing our enjoyment to actually saving our lives and property.  Volunteers are doing much of the heavy-lifting right now in Florida, as weeks ago they did in Eastern Kentucky.

Churches and other organizations will soon be working to provide safer and healthier Halloween nights in communities.  Organizations are hosting Fall Festivals of some type all around us.  Some are somewhat tax-supported; some people are paid.  But a large group volunteer their time and resources to make these events even more meaningful.

And in less time than you can learn to recite Moore’s A Visit from St. Nick, we will be surrounded by Christmas offerings courtesy of many of these same volunteers.  Carolers, cookies bakers and Wassail servers.  All those who decorate homes and businesses with lights and ornaments.

This is to say nothing of the people that will be fed and clothed.  In-home and hospitalized that will be visited and read to.  All who will be prayed for.  We have been commanded to “use whatever gifts…(we) have received to serve others.”  To “as we have opportunity….do good to all people.”  Been reminded it “… more blessed to give than receive.”

We have increasing amounts of government-directed social programs.  A lot of us pay taxes that help support some of these institutions that sponsor some of these works—directly or through grants.  That might not be enough.  Kahlil Gibran observed “You give but little when you give of your possessions.  It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”

And it does not always take a lot.  Christian author Leo Buscaglia notes “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or that smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

It might just be a plastic bottle of pop with a note attached.  Thanks for joining us! 

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