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Sunday, June 2, 2002
Last modified at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 1, 2002
© 2002 - The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Many ways to give back to the community


Giving back to the community can be measured in dollars or hours. Either way, adults and youth in Lubbock continue a tradition of investing in the city.

Lubbock citizens annually donate millions of dollars to charity. As an army of volunteers, they devote hundreds of thousands of hours to civic groups, projects and events. They take a greater interest in the community through non-profit groups and service organizations.

''People giving back to a community is what makes America great,'' former Lubbock mayor Windy Sitton said. ''I think that has become a way of life with a lot of people.''

Each year beginning in late summer, the United Way of Lubbock unleashes its campaign to raise funds for 22 local health and human service organizations. The city-wide effort in 2001 raised $4.4 million, surpassing the goal of $4.25 million.

The U Can Share Food Drive for canned food and monetary donations is a fixture each holiday season. It collected more than 500,000 pounds of canned and non-perishable food items and personal hygiene items and about $120,000 in donations last year for the South Plains Food Bank.

A handful of fund-raisers are staged each year to fight disease and help finance the city's vibrant medical community.

Opportunities to volunteer are widespread in Lubbock.

Adults and youth donate their time at hospitals, schools and churches. They work at non-profit agencies, serve civic groups and political parties and sit on boards and commissions. They help with a wide range of youth groups and provide manpower for city-wide events.

Official totals aren't available, but by one estimate as many as 80,000 Lubbock adults volunteer each year. Thousands more college, high school, junior high and elementary students join the effort.

More men and students volunteer each year. Retired adults are gradually replacing women as the backbone of the volunteer force in Lubbock and nationwide.

Good volunteers are committed, dependable and enthusiastic. They arrive with positive outlooks. More and more, they seek hands-on opportunities to give something back to the community.

The city has more than 100 agencies, social and service organizations and groups that rely at least partially on volunteers.

Habitat for Humanity's local building blitz each year draws thousands of volunteer home builders. Volunteers log approximately 230,000 hours annually at the South Plains Food Bank.

The Panhandle South Plains Fair and 4th on Broadway celebration are annual events that rely on the effort of hundreds of volunteers. There are approximately 450 citizens serving on the variety of city boards and commissions.

The Junior league of Lubbock, one of the city's premier volunteer organizations, is the driving force behind perhaps the area's most ambitious community project. Legacy Play Village, a three-story, multi-million dollar wooden playground, will be financed through donations and is scheduled to be built in October with volunteer labor.

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