Over the past 15 years, we have partnered with hundreds of non-profits at thousands of project sites with tens of thousands of amazing and caring volunteers. Together, we have made a positive impact on our people and places.
It was difficult to choose just 15 volunteer projects to spotlight in honor of our anniversary, but here are just a few of our favorites:
15 – Habitat for Humanity
Home ownership is important to a successful community, but sometimes it is beyond many people. Home owners feel a level of pride in their property, a deeper sense of belonging in their neighborhood, and are making an investment in their community. HOTC volunteers assist organizations like Habitat For Humanity with construction, landscaping, and basic repairs to make this dream a reality. By helping our neighbors, we help ourselves.
14 – Rose Planting
A beautiful city is a happy city! This past April, volunteers including HOTC Board Members planted 20 rose bushes in the Thomasville City Rose Garden in honor of a “Community Of Volunteers” (the theme of the 2018 Rose Parade), our “City Of Roses”, and HOTC Sponsors. We look forward to making this a community-wide tradition. Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses!
13 – Meigs Literacy Fair and Book Drive
Every January, HOTC collects new books to donate to the Meigs Literacy Fair & Read-a-thon held on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day which for us is a day on, not a day off. Our goal is always 100 books for kids, but thanks to generous donors, that goal is always surpassed. On this day of service, we partner with the Virtuous Girls Group of Meigs which hosts the literacy fair to recruit volunteers to dress as their favorite book character and read to the attending youth. It’s a treat to see everyone from Little Bo Peep to Harry Potter share their love of reading.
12 – Litter Pick-ups
Nobody likes litter. And no one wants to be the one to have to pick it up. But if it is there, someone has to do it! Enter volunteers. In partnership with Keep Thomas County Beautiful, we activate volunteers throughout the year to pick up litter along roadways, in neighborhoods, and in parks. This volunteer activity can be done by anyone regardless of age or skill, anywhere, and anytime – meaning we can all do our part.
11 – Fire Rescue
Giving back to those who give every day is a privilege. We have been honored to host volunteers at Thomasville City Fire Rescue: cleaning the upstairs dormitory and the downstairs bays, and painting the training buildings. Although our tasks will never match their daily feats of bravery, we do what we can to make their jobs easier, and show our appreciation.
10 – Main Street Sweeps
Historic downtowns are just one of the many charming traits our community has to offer. In partnership with Downtown Main Street, we send volunteers to pick up litter, sweep storefronts, and perform thankless jobs like clean gum off trash receptacles. This is just our small way of doing our part to beautify our public spaces, and show thanks to the many business owners who are invested in the success of our community. It always makes us feel good when business owners come out to ask what we are doing, and when we tell them we’re here to support their efforts, the smiles come out.
9 – Nepenthic Society
Just outside of Thomasville proper, you will find (but it will take some searching, and a long trip down a treacherous dirt road) the only wild animal rescue in south Georgia. Managed, almost single-handedly, by Ms. Lorraine Conklin, this facility takes in, cares for, and rehabilitates abandoned or injured wild animals (at last visit, we saw a bear, fox, beaver, owl, deer, and many a baby squirrel). Due to the contrary nature of many of the clientele, the agency has to be very selective about volunteers. We have been proud to be able to send out a group from Flowers Foods and Stony Creek Landscaping every year to assist (Anyone can also help by donating animal food, canned goat milk, and other items). Just another example of the many unique people and places that make our community special.
8 – Historical Landmarks
Historic preservation plays a huge part in our community’s success, so we are always excited when asked to participate in a project that improves our historic places with partners such as the Thomasville History Center and Thomasville Landmarks. Their programs allow our volunteers to help historic property owners and caretakers by providing basic upgrades and upkeep which improves our neighborhoods and character.
7 – Senior Centers
Senior citizens make up 20% of the population in Thomas County. Although many are blessed with loving families and support; many are not, and 3% of local seniors live below the poverty line. We all want to be loved and cared for, and we all deserve to be. HOTC recruits volunteers of all ages to visit senior residences and centers to play games, help out around the facilities, and socialize – we are consistently captivated by the stories and histories shared. Joy, laughter, companionship, and making new friends are mutual benefits for everyone!
6 – Care Packs
Every spring, we hold a collection drive for travel size toiletry items amassing bins of toothbrushes, shampoo, soap and other daily items many of us take for granted. In the fall, these items are sorted and packed into care packages by members of JSL and kids age one to twelve, which are then distributed to human service agencies like Halcyon Home, Homeless Coalition, and Red Cross. This project shows that even the smallest of gifts, and the smallest of volunteers is able to make a big difference.
5 – Cemeteries
Honoring our historical places and people is a time-honored tradition in Thomas County, and one that sets us apart. The Hebrew Cemetery, Metcalfe Friendship Cemetery, and Laurel Hill Cemetery are just a few of the burial grounds which HOTC volunteers have tended over the years: cleaning headstones, clearing overgrowth, and carrying out tasks that are respectful and observant of those that have gone before us.
4 – Challenges
Everyone wants to feel like they are a part of the community they live in. It is easier for some than others. From mobility and transportation issues to social and learning barriers, for people with disabilities, it can often be a challenge. Whether helping with housing and facility maintenance, socializing, or volunteering side by side, HOTC volunteers work to eradicate perceived differences and find common ground through partnerships with organizations like Sunrise Communities and Thomas Grady Service Center.
3 – Disaster Relief
January 22, 2017, Thomas County was battered by straight-line winds and tornadoes which destroyed 11 homes, and caused widespread damage and debris. In partnership with Thomas County EMA and All Hands & Hearts Smart Response, HOTC assisted in opening and running a Volunteer Reception Center to allow those needing help and those wanting to help a central place to go. Hundreds of individuals and businesses came together to provide meals and labor over a three-week recovery period. We are proud of how our community members unite in times of need.
2 – Disc Golf
In 2009, HOTC in partnership with the City of Thomasville and Red Hills Disc Golf, installed a disc golf course at MacIntyre Park. Now in line for major improvements, at the time, this little-utilized green space was begging for attention and use. HOTC purchased equipment and with the help of volunteers, a popular (and free) outdoor attraction was created allowing locals and visitors an opportunity to play and enjoy the park. HOTC also offers disc golf clinics, and a disc bank for those needing to borrow equipment to play.
1 – Manna Drops
One in four people struggle with food insecurity every day in South Georgia; one in three are kids. Numbers don’t have faces. Numbers don’t have names, and most of us don’t recognize that these numbers represent our very own people. To help address this issue, HOTC, in partnership with Second Harvest, holds a Manna Drop – a free food distribution for neighbors in need – a minimum of four times each year (during every major volunteer event day). We also help coordinate Manna Drops throughout the year for volunteer groups who want to further the cause. This past year alone, HOTC facilitated 10 Manna Drops assisting 2395 individuals. The people these Manna Drops feed have faces you recognize. The families have members you know. Taking care of our own is the most impactful way you can volunteer.