Editorial: National Volunteer Week celebrates those who give

Apr. 09, 2014 @ 11:51 PM

Veta King does it with Helping Others Prepare through Education.

Dr. Richard Dew does it with Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic.

Ruth Russell, 93, does it at Sevier County Food Ministries.

And hundreds, if not thousands, do it at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park each year.

Volunteering is vital part of Sevier County, East Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains, and without it, our community would be a vastly different, more difficult place.

This week, through Saturday, is National Volunteer Week — a movement founded 40 years ago and designed to promote the need for volunteers and celebrate those who give of their time for the benefit of others.

"It's about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities," Points of Light, an international, nonprofit, nonpartisan volunteer organization, says on its website. "It’s about demonstrating to the nation that by working together, we have the fortitude to meet our challenges and accomplish our goals."

Sevier County serves as an inspirational model of what good volunteerism is all about. Everywhere you go in our county you can see good being done for others, often through voluntary service.

But more hands are always needed.

By our estimates, and through an Internal Revenue Service search of nonprofits, there are almost 200 charitable organizations in Sevier County. In Sevierville the IRS lists 94 nonprofits; 27 in Gatlinburg; 25 in Seymour; 18 each in Pigeon Forge and Pittman Center and 10 in Kodak. And that's not counting small, under-the-radar efforts that simply do good without accepting donations.

With many of those charities and nonprofits working on shoestring budgets, almost all could use your help. An hour here, 30 minutes there — these groups aren't picky. In most cases they can work to fit your schedule and would be delighted to have your assistance.

This week is a great reminder that we can all make a difference, no matter how small, for the betterment of our community. All it takes is a little sacrifice.