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Volunteering Good For All Involved
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Volunteering is one of the few ways a person can give and still feel like they received.
Bettye Wadsworth, leadership development specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said Extension volunteer efforts last year on educational programs and services were worth more than $16 million in the state.
"Some of the most important people in America are volunteer leaders," Wadsworth said. "The contributions made by volunteers toward maintaining democracy and improving community life can't be adequately measured. Volunteers reach out with their individual talents, skills and interests to help organizations and communities meet needs, solve problems and assist others.
People volunteer for a variety of reasons, but all are rewarded with the personal satisfaction of helping others. Some volunteer to feel accepted in a group, others for the respect and responsibility they gain, while others volunteer simply because they were asked.
"Potential volunteers must perceive a reason for becoming involved," Wadsworth said. "Achievement, even on a small scale, leads to a feeling of success and is a major factor in sustaining volunteer efforts. People like to learn and advance in levels of responsibility."
An upcoming statewide event is looking for volunteers to work in shifts and make 50 coats for needy youth Oct. 10 during the State Fair in Jackson. From 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., these volunteers will sew 50 polar fleece jackets in children's sizes for the Comfy Coats program.
All the coats will be donated to Matt's House, a women and children's shelter in Jackson. MSU's Extension Service is coordinating the activity through the Master Clothing Volunteers program.
The sewing will be done in a booth in the Mississippi Trade Mart. Volunteers are asked to stop by and sew for a few minutes or donate their time doing other jobs related to the project. Sewing machines will be set up, and all supplies needed to construct the coats will be available.
"I'd like to see anyone who has a willingness to give to others to visit our booth," said Debbie Grayum, Master Clothing Volunteer coordinator. "When you volunteer, the rewards are much greater than what you give."
At the close of the day's sewing, the coats will be given to Matt's House director Mary Thomas for distribution to needy youth.
Helping sponsor the program and donate supplies is Hancock Fabrics of Tupelo providing fabric; Coats & Clark providing zippers and thread; and McDonald's of Greater Jackson providing packaging material and coupons for food items.
The Master Clothing Volunteers program is new to Mississippi, but already has sewing groups in 26 counties. Volunteers donate time to teach their sewing skills to people in their community. In return, they get specialty training in sewing areas that interest them, Grayum said.
Anyone interested in volunteering their time for this sewing project can either call their local Extension home economist for more details or stop by the Mississippi Trade Mart Oct. 10 between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Signs there will direct volunteers to the booth.
A more ambitious goal is planned for next year where volunteers would like to sew coats for 10 days to be donated to the needy, Grayum said.
MSU's Extension Service has a long history of volunteer service in the community.
"Volunteer leaders are an effective way to introduce Extension's programs into communities and county economic and social development are improved by positive volunteer efforts," Wadsworth said. "Family, county and community situations can be improved through addressing and meeting needs."