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Volunteer efforts create better future for region.

Volunteer efforts create better future for region.

When it comes to volunteering, there are seemingly endless opportunities throughout southwest Kansas.

And, thankfully, many helpers step up to fill the need.

It's National Volunteer Week, an ideal time to celebrate the continued, selfless gifts of time and other resources from generous people in our midst.

Proof is evident practically every day.

This past Friday, a prime example came in the 36th Annual Garden City Community College Endowment Association Scholarship Auction, one of many good local events that would be far more difficult to pull off with success without the efforts of volunteers.

Many other volunteer-aided events improve local quality of life, such as the Tumbleweed Festival, Wild Affair fundraiser for Lee Richardson Zoo and activities organized by the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce.

Beyond such events, the ways people make a difference year-round include adults volunteering to become leaders in 4-H, scouting, youth sports and other activities. They help young people learn and develop life skills that help them throughout their lives.

Volunteers make a difference in older residents' lives, too, with such efforts as the dependable delivery of Meals on Wheels.

Volunteers also save lives. The American Red Cross has relied on the generosity, strength and dedication of donors who give blood, serve as emergency responders and help in other ways.

Then there are the countless other volunteer efforts that benefit hospitals, churches and schools. The list could go on and on.

Volunteer pursuits become all the more valuable at a time more groups and organizations deal with tight budgets that force cuts in staffing and programs.

It's also safe to say many organizations could use more of a boost from volunteers. Apathy too often can get in the way of involvement.

Along with bringing a time to honor volunteers, National Volunteer Week also should serve as a reminder of the need to pursue new ideas that fuel more engagement from youth and adults.

Volunteers improve communities. Knowing how those who do lend a hand help make the region a better place to live, the push to grow those ranks should always be a priority.

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