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The Gift of Time (Written for the “Chalk Talk” section of the Tri-County Citizen by Chamber Director, Kate Weber)
Isn’t it a wonderful blessing to live, work or attend school in Chesaning during the holiday season? Our community lights up with festive seasonal decor, and the warmth and generosity of our close-knit village and surrounding townships are evident in the many events that take place between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But look deeper than the abundance of activities on our Chesaning Community Calendar and you will find the true gift that is given year after year by our residents, businesses and students: hundreds of volunteer hours.
By definition, a volunteer is a person who performs a service willingly and without pay. Volunteers are the vital ingredient to any event, making possible what most budgets would deem impossible if a paid staff had to be hired to do the same amount of work. The Chamber’s Christmas Candlelight Walk alone requires hundreds, if not thousands of volunteer hours every year, with tasks ranging from the simple, such as wrapping gifts, to as difficult as braving freezing temperatures to change light bulbs on the tops of downtown buildings from a truck with a boom lift. It takes an army of willing, unpaid volunteers to accomplish not only Candlelight Walk, but also Santa’s Village at the Saginaw County Fairgrounds, several holiday craft bazaars including the Chesaning Music Boosters and St. Peter Parish craft shows on Thanksgiving weekend, the Greg Wirgau's 5ers 5K Run-Walk-Crawl, breakfasts with Santa, toy drives, food distributions and more. Stop to think how much would be lost if so many people were unwilling to donate their time so abundantly.
Encouraging volunteerism in our youth is vital not only to the continuation of our traditional events but also to the future of the non-profit organizations that enhance our community in many untold ways. The Chamber has been delighted to be on the receiving end of endless support from many youth organizations, including the Chesaning High School National Honor Society, Middle School Builders Club (a Kiwanis program), local Cub Scouts and AFS Intercultural Exchange, to name just a few. Even the younger students in our public and private schools get involved by decorating dozens of gingerbread houses that adorn our Broad Street businesses for the Candlelight Walk with encore appearances at Santa’s Village. We commend our local educators for developing the hearts of volunteers in our youth, a lesson that teaches not only how to give back to their community but also instills work ethic, selflessness, and pride in their home town.
As you enjoy the sights and sounds of the holidays in Chesaning and the surrounding communities in November and December, be sure to take a moment to thank a volunteer for making it all possible. Truly, they are the unsung heroes of the season.