by Eric A Thomas
There are many ways that someone can help others and all types of people want to be involved — from youth groups at area churches to retirees who enjoy helping others and keeping busy. You just need to know where to look. So, to help with that, two Jacksonville women are working to bring the projects and the volunteers together.
Barb Cannon and Lynda Drake have started Jacksonville Just Serve, a nondenominational service where organizations and individuals can list their projects with which they could use some help as well as find projects for which they can volunteer. Jacksonville Just Serve is a local extension from the national organization Just Serve that was created in 2014. The premise behind the national organization is to help bring communities together through service. Nonprofits, faith-based, community and governmental organizations can post their need for volunteers.
This is new to the Jacksonville area and is a free service. The group organizers are working on assembling both the projects and the people who wish to volunteer. They are focused on Jacksonville but will consider volunteer opportunities in the greater area. No discrimination based on race, religion, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation will be tolerated.
Cannon and Drake have adopted guidelines for Jacksonville’s Just Serve from the national organization; it states projects should not have a political or advocacy focus, be for-profit oriented, or directly involve volunteers in soliciting or handling money. Projects will be available for people who want to work from home, for families or groups who want to serve together and more. The timeframe to volunteer can be as little as one hour or as much as all day.
Some possible volunteer activities could be cleaning up area playgrounds, helping the elderly with yard work, working on fidget quilts for area nursing homes, helping to collect needed items for the homeless shelter, working on special projects for PAWS and Morgan County Animal Control, or helping the City of Jacksonville plant flowers. Through the national website, someone could get involved in collecting clothes for the people of Ukraine or helping to make pillowcases for children in hospitals, among many things.
Volunteers can choose the type of opportunities for which to be considered. Once that type of program is available, the volunteer will be notified via email or text. Volunteers must be 16 years of age or older. There is no limit to people needing help that can be listed. People that can offer special skills such as sewing or handyman work would be greatly accepted.
“Maybe we won’t be able to solve the world’s problems, but working together to help each other, especially in serving those in need, we can solve some problems here in our community,” organizers said. “This can also give us an opportunity to make some new friends as we serve side-by-side.”
To sign up to volunteer or list a project for which you need help, please go to Jacksonville Just Serve on Facebook. Sign-up or questions can also be directed to Barb Cannon at 217-371-2704 or Lynda Drake at 217-371-1570.