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Giving together, giving back
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Giving together, giving back

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CROWN POINT | Volunteers play many roles in nonprofit and service organizations.

The sixth annual Spring into Action Community Volunteer Fair on Saturday at Crown Point High School brought together 83 of those organization with people of all ages interesting in donating their time and talents.

Sponsored by the Crown Point Community Foundation, this year’s fair filled the school’s cafeteria with more than double the amount of organizations that participated in the first fair.

Americorps volunteers Chris Wade, of Schererville, and Manuelita Guerrero, of Hammond, manned the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana booth.

“We’re looking for volunteers to do food sorting, food packing at the warehouse and distribution to 99 food pantries in Lake and Porter counties,” Wade said.

“We also have Pantries on the Go that operate throughout Lake and Porter counties from March to December,” Guerrero explained.

As the type of services agencies provide grow, so does the need for volunteers, said Sam Condes, of Highland, treasurer of the board of directors for The Arc of Northwest Indiana. It has centers in Highland, Hobart and Crown Point serving more than 700 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Our Eco-Store at our Highland facility recycles granite that would otherwise go into landfills,” Condes said. “The store provides pavers and jewelry. It helps the environment and helps our clients.”

Volunteers with The Arc also work in the administrative office in Gary, provide cleaning and painting services at the buildings and assisted living facilities and take clients on recreation outings, he said.

Dogs and cats drew lots of attention at booths representing the Power Paws for Kids Inc. based throughout south suburban Illinois and Northwest Indiana and the Independent Cat Society in Westville.

“These are therapy dogs. They go to schools, libraries, nursing homes, to Campagna Academy. The kids read to them,” said Gwen Hammonds, of Cedar Lake, as Daisy the boxer, Elvis the beagle and Dakota, the sheltie, greeted visitors to the booth.

Brad Piniak, of Munster, said he attended Spring into Action for the first time.

“I’ve never volunteered. I’ve been retired 10 years,” Piniak said. “I travel from spring through fall visiting my grandkids. I thought it would be beneficial to volunteer.”

One of Piniak’s stops was at the Lake Area United Way display.

“We’re looking for retirees and senior citizens to volunteer in Lake, Porter, LaPorte and Starke counties,” said Mackenna Schon, director of volunteer engagement at the LAUW site in Valparaiso.


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