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Week urges helpers to get Hands On
Volunteer efforts pair people, projects
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Forsyth County News

Tens of thousands of Georgians will get their hands dirty next week.

As a result, parks will be cleaner, debris will be removed from lakes and rivers and people in need will receive some relief.

Every year, Hands on Georgia Week calls people across the state to service, and last year, about 68,000 volunteers responded.

Forsyth’s chapter of Hands on Georgia hopes to at least match last year’s turnout of about 1,000 volunteers
“Even with the economic times the way they are, people are stepping up to the plate and doing things for other people,” said Jerry Dupree, program coordinator for Hands on Forsyth. “The compassion and the community spirit never cease to amaze me.

“I know there are families here that are struggling, but we’re seeing a new clientele with the economic situation of people losing their homes and jobs. But even in that situation, I see folks coming out and volunteering to help other families.”

Dupree said the outreach reminds him of his own childhood, when neighbors would help each other through financial struggles.

Though Hands on Georgia Week is part of a statewide initiative, Dupree said Forsyth’s volunteers are more likely to help on a local level, than to participate in statewide efforts.

“I think really the statewide campaign is to get the spirit and volunteerism going on in those individual communities,” he said.

Projects in Forsyth include assisting with pet adoptions, being a Miracle League buddy, reading to toddlers, helping at the senior center and preparing and operating for the Play at the Park Family Fun Festival.

The county’s largest project is the Community Clean-Up, held in partnership with Keep Forsyth County Beautiful.

The cleanup will cover all of downtown Cumming in preparation for the annual Cumming Country Fair & Festival, said Nicole McCoy, executive director of Community Connection.

“We really want to emphasize that it takes every resident doing their part to make the nonprofits in the community successful and to really improve the quality of life in the community,” she said.

“If we all do a very small part, such as taking two hours out of one of our days, we can truly make Forsyth County the best place to live.”

Because the event is centrally located, McCoy said more volunteers are likely to attend. She hopes students will help out after school and employees will leave work a little early and lend two hours of support.

Gov. Sonny Perdue issued a challenge to residents and businesses across the state to participate in the weeklong service event.

“I challenge each Georgian to join me and volunteer for a local community service project with your family, friends or co-workers,” he said in a statement.

“I encourage everyone to find something that they are passionate about, whether it’s working with children or senior citizens, cleaning up and preserving our state’s natural resources, or supporting fine arts and sports programs.”

McCoy said the Hands on Georgia week is one of the few statewide volunteer programs in the nation.

Working together as a state will “enable Georgia to set a great example for the rest of the nation,” McCoy said.

“I think we’re showing the nation that you can be successful at mobilizing citizens.”