8 Ways to Show You Care

Life is better for all of us when we step out to help others — so says Kristen Johnson of Garner, who is president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Eastern North Carolina.

“I was taught by example from an early age that if someone needs help, you find a way to make a difference,” said Johnson. “Volunteering is a natural extension of what is important to you, helps others, builds character, hones skills, and the list could go on and on.”

In 2012, Make-A-Wish celebrated its 25th anniversary and the granting of its 2,500th wish in Eastern North Carolina, milestones Johnson says could not have been reached without the dedication of volunteers.

“Volunteers are the eyes, ears, arms, legs and heart of an organization,” Johnson said. “Everyone can volunteer! You just need to find what you are passionate about and what you are good at doing.

“The feeling of knowing you made a difference in someone’s life is one of the greatest feelings in the world,” she said. “It is a connection, a bond that can never be taken from you.”

Inspired to find your own special way to help others? Here are eight local starting points:

Cary Magazine has a new online Charity Directory at www.carymagazine.com/charity-organizations, to serve as a resource for you in offering help to our neighbors.

• Ring ‘em up at the register, or help unload the goods at Garner Area Ministries. Offering financial assistance, food and clothing to the needy, GAM is always on the lookout for volunteers to staff its thrift shop and food pantry, help in the office and more. And of course, donations of new and gently-used clothing, household items and food are appreciated; gam-nc.org.

• Become a Townie: From acting onstage to behind-the-scenes roles like stage crew, prop master, lobby staff and more, theater group the Towne Players of Garner welcomes volunteers. Check out the opportunities at facebook.com/TownePlayersofGarner.

• Boost downtown! The Garner Revitalization Association, at downtowngarner.com, welcomes input on development efforts to take Garner into the future. Join a committee, such as Events & Marketing, Beautification or Economic Restructuring, and be a part of progress. 

• Be a friend at Able to Serve, which helps adults with special needs focus on their abilities and roles in the community, abletoserve.org. From service and vocational learning programs to van drivers, the opportunities to volunteer are here.

• Wield a hammer for good at Community of Hope Ministries, which offers practical help such as home repairs to at-risk people. Programs also include afterschool, summer camp, food pantry and benevolence fund; for volunteer opportunities, see communityofhopeministries.org.  

• Reading buddies are needed at Schools and Community Organized to Read, or SCOR. In 30 minutes a week you can help Garner second-graders raise their reading scores and boost school success. Contact Martha Liles to get started, at Martha@rand-bryanhouse.com.

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