Thank a volunteer — or, even better, become one


Every community needs police officers, teachers, sanitation workers and elected leaders. But every community also needs volunteers, the people whose contributions mean so much yet so often go unnoticed.

April is National Volunteer Month, so we wanted to make sure those important people get their due thanks. It’s hard to find an aspect of your village’s or town’s operations to which volunteers don’t contribute.

Among the most prominent volunteers are firefighters. Even in communities like Long Beach, which have paid firefighters, volunteers still play a huge role in the preservation of life and property. They leave their families on a moment’s notice to rush to burning buildings and horrific accident scenes.

Volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians go through countless hours of training simply because they want to help their neighbors, and they don’t ask for much in return.

In the wake of tragedy, many ordinary citizens volunteer their time to help others, often on the spot. After last week’s bombings at the Boston Marathon, scores of people could be seen running toward, not away from, the scene to help the injured. They offered immediate and necessary care to help improve the victims’ chances of survival.

On Long Island, thousands of people volunteered to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy, doing everything from organizing food and clothing drives to helping people rebuild their damaged homes. Volunteers helped devastated communities come back to life a little faster.

Think of all the other volunteers we have in our communities, delivering Meals on Wheels, sorting donations at food pantries, delivering library books to homebound residents. These are small acts of kindness that make a big difference in the lives of our fellow citizens.

If you know people who volunteer, make sure to thank them. And why not follow their example and become a volunteer yourself? You’ll find that helping others can be its own reward.