Volunteer Appreciation – Do You Know a Special Volunteer? I Do!

Carolina Pad and VolunteerSpot.com have teamed up for Volunteer Week 2011 to celebrate extraordinary volunteers and their teams with fun prizes and well-deserved recognition.

VolunteerSpot is a FREE online resource for volunteers to organize events, a soccer season, church fundraiser and many, many more other volunteer events. VolunteerSpot’s FREE online signup sheets make it easy for anyone to schedule and coordinate parent volunteers  — say goodbye to reply all email and clipboard sign up sheets this spring!

Do you know a special volunteer? Someone who helps others with nothing expected in return? Someone who goes out of their way to make life a little bit easier on others? Well, I do. I happen to know a few of them. And what they do, actually brings me to tears sometimes because I am so proud to know them.

I wish I could tell you about all of them, I really do, but I can’t so I will just tell you about Donnie. Donnie is the founder of HomeTown Heroes. If you haven’t heard about HomeTown Heroes, you haven’t been reading my blog long enough.

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Hometown Heroes is a charitable organization that provides financial, emotional, and spiritual help for children and their families that is battling cancer.

But Donnie doesn’t sit behind some desk “figuring things out”.  Donnie becomes a part of these families lives, no…he becomes part of their family.  I met Donnie at a Christmas Tree Farm where he was volunteering his time to help sell Christmas Trees as a fundraiser for HomeTown Heroes. Do you know what that fundraiser (in part) helped HomeTown Heroes do?

It allowed HomeTown Heroes to give 20+ families with children suffering from cancer their very own “Walmart” Christmas. On Christmas Eve, the Walmart in Monroe closed and all the “families” were able to buy Christmas Gifts, food, you name it, they got it. I was lucky enough to be there with my own family, observing the love Donnie had for these kids and their families. If you want to know more about it, check out Christmas Eve with Hometown Heroes.

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“This all started when Donnie was working at the Monroe Police Department.  In 1998 he was making a routine call when he ran into Matthew, a young boy sitting in his backyard and unable to play with the neighborhood friend because the effects of leukemia were keeping Matthew sidelined.

He then recognized a need to help this family by involving some of the other officers. Together he and his co-workers decided to “adopt” the family, spending time with Matthew for two more years, helping with what bills they could, and calling just to say hello. They would mow yards, paint houses and get together golf tournaments. After Matthew got well, Donnie decided that was fun and wanted to find some more kids to help.

He then found Blair.  She was seven years old and had cancer and as Donnie states, “she was an angel”. She had a disease that was going to take her life. And it did. She was always asking him things about himself and his family. When they talked, which was often, she would tell him about Jesus and how proud she was that he was her friend. She felt special because so many of Donnie’s friends rode motorcycles in her honor. He always hugged her twice, one for now, and one for later. Physically she felt hollow (from the chemo and radiation), but when he hugged her he could feel her heart beating against him and she was more alive and stronger than anyone he had ever touched. She was an angel and the best compliment that he ever received was that she told him he was her best friend with her being seven years old.

Blair summoned him to her bedside two days before she passed away to tell him how much she loved him and how important it is that he keep helping children like her.” And thus, Hometown Heroes was born.

A couple weeks ago, Donnie and a few other volunteers drove from Monroe to Duke, two hours one way,  where two of their “family” members were being treated for cancer. He played games with the kids, watched cartoons with them, he helped make them feel “OK” even if only for a few minutes.

I cannot tell you how proud I am to know Donnie and the other volunteers  of HomeTown Heroes.  I cannot begin to tell you all of the wonderful things Donnie does to help these families. If I tried, I would never finish writing.

This is why I will be nominating Donnie as an Extraordinary Volunteer.  Carolina Pad and VolunteerSpot.com are hosting a contest for an Extraordinary Volunteer.

You can nominate your special volunteer too! All you have to do to enter is tell them why your special volunteer is the best and why they deserve to win!

To enter,click the picture below.

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If you win, you and your volunteer will both win a Carolina Pad prizes!

Let me just say, in all honesty, whether or not Donnie wins the Carolina Pad/VolunteerSpot.com Extraordinary Volunteer Contest, he will always be an Extraordinary Person to me and it is my pleasure to nominate him.

But more importantly, he will always be a Hero to the families of Hometown Heroes.

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