Community volunteerism is its own reward

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As part of my decision to return to Yukon last summer after three years away, I made a commitment to myself to volunteer more.

There are many fine civic clubs and service organizations in Yukon that need our help – whether that be financial support or labor. Being a volunteer means your only “pay” is usually the satisfaction of helping your neighbor or someone you’ll never meet.

I’ve known Sherri Rogers since the early 2000s. Her daughter was killed by a drunk driver in Stillwater and I covered the court case from the perspective of the victim’s family.

Sherri is now a dedicated volunteer at Yukon’s emergency food bank, the Manna Pantry.

This agency really makes a difference in the lives of those who need help. Although Yukon is a fairly affluent city, there is a significant segment of our population that goes to bed hungry.

Last Saturday, I signed up to spend my morning volunteering for the annual Letter Carriers Food Drive. After Sherri gave me my map, I loaded up longtime friend (and former neighbor) Nellie and we covered a Surrey Hills postal route to pick up food donations left beside mailboxes.

We filled the back of my Dodge Ram pickup with bags of canned items left by generous Surrey residents. This year, our mail carriers needed help picking up all the food so more than a dozen volunteer teams were recruited to cover some mail routes.

As of press time, nearly 23,000 pounds of food for Manna Pantry had been collected through this year’s Mail Carriers Food Drive. Best of all, all these donations “stay local!” A great cause indeed.

It took many dozens of other volunteers to unload, sort, weigh, and stock all the donated foodstuffs brought by mail carriers and volunteer drivers to the Manna Pantry, 123 S 6th. If you forgot to leave food out Saturday, you still can take it to the pantry or post office.

Another volunteer opportunity for yours truly came last Friday. It was the 37th Annual Yukon Chamber of Commerce Golf Classic – back this year at the Surrey Hills Golf Club.

It was a little chilly early, but it got nicer as the day progressed and everyone seemed to have a great time.

The Yukon chamber’s executive assistant, Ashley Sprague, enlisted me to help take photos of all 30 teams at the fund-raising tournament.

Ashley got behind the wheel of the golf cart and escorted me across all 18 holes, helping wave down teams to ensure none would be missed. Ashley had never driven a golf cart so I felt fortunate to have been bounced out of my seat only twice.

To top it off, she even helped take pictures while I dusted myself off from the ground. She’s quite the shutterbug.

The golf classic was another memorable event to support Yukon’s chamber, which advocates for Yukon businesses both large and small. You’ll read (and see) more about this event in an upcoming Yukon Progress edition.

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IT’S HERE: Speaking of good causes, Compassionate Hands’ second wheelchair-accessible van has hit Yukon streets. A grant paid for the new van, which is used to take local seniors and people with disabilities to medical appointments and errands.

The “Care-a-Van” is a terrific service made possible by the generosity of many contributors. Having a second van has allowed Compassionate Hands to hire new drivers and serve more clients.

Anton Yanda III, Alberta French and Carol Schweitzer were instrumental in starting the Care-a-Van 25 years ago.

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ALMOST HERE: Some 470 members of the Yukon High School Class of 2019 are expected to participate in the annual YHS Project Graduation next Tuesday night at Redlands Community College.

Project Graduation is an overnight, post-Commencement celebration for Yukon’s new graduates.

YHS Project Graduation Board President Angela Mogg and her committee are just a few hundred dollars short of their $40,000 fund-raising goal. Through their efforts, Tuesday will be a memorable (and safe) night for the YHS Class of ’19.

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Good friend Terry Beaver has driven the same vehicle for more than 20 years. Recently, Terry’s 1999 Chevrolet Silverado reached an impressive plateau. His truck now had 406,000 miles!

I don’t know anyone else in Yukon who has a vehicle with that many miles. If you know, let me know.

Terry (a past Czech Day parade chairman and Yukon Recycling Committee member) even had one set of tires that lasted 99,000 miles!

Most of us shutter when our vehicles pass 100,000 miles. Terry has taken good care of his truck, demonstrating how critical it is to regularly service your vehicle.

Terry bought his truck from Steve Gwartney’s Chevrolet dealership when it was in the building now occupied by “The Angle” retail shopping center at Vandament and Garth Brooks Boulevard.