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Volunteers honored at luncheon

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By Bernadette Lauritzen

Maura Taylor, the executive director of Self Help and Sarah Chandler, the director for the Los Alamos Volunteer Association, go together like peas in a pod. The beauty of their programs is that one benefits the other, the giver and the receiver.

It turns brief volunteer periods into months of helping those that need it the most. That program is ringing the bell for the Salvation Army.

On Tuesday, a handful of volunteers were rewarded with a lunch at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, to thank them for their volunteer efforts. Pizza, salad and cream puffs greeted the 25 volunteers, just a portion of the 70-90 residents that rang the bell throughout the holiday season at Smith’s Food and Drugstores in White Rock and Smith’s Marketplace in Los Alamos.

Self Help has been doing this type of work for 50 years as of this spring, and began their partnership with the Salvation Army in 2004.

According to Taylor, they have rung that bell every year from Black Friday until Christmas Eve. The LAVA program, formerly RSVP began their formal relationship with the Salvation Army in 2008. Now the duo works together to help the community.

How did this holiday season make the Self Help director feel?

“So proud,” said Taylor. “I’m very grateful to the volunteers and to Sarah for all their hard work, and so excited at all the people we’ll be able to help.”

Chandler works with many of the volunteers throughout the year. She knows just how involved people can be when they find a passion. “LAVA/RSVP volunteers do so much good in the community,” said Chandler. “I see how diligently they support causes of all kinds with their loving service, but rarely is the good they do so easily quantifiable as in the case of raising these essential funds for our friends and neighbors in need.”

The team was thrilled to have 50 percent more volunteers than last year, making a tremendous difference in the amount of money raised for the community. They were also excited to see that people of all ages were getting involved in the goal.

The youth volunteers ranged in ages from high schoolers to toddlers. It was an opportunity for young people to see that it’s fun and an accessible way for them to make a difference.

The goal was not only reached, but was one higher than ever before.

It was said that Major Wayne Wetter, of the Salvation Army was proud with the impressive earnings of our small community. “$19,500 is a personal record for Los Alamos, and it’s all thanks to the volunteers and the help of Sarah and the LAVA office!”