According to the Corporation for National Community Service, over 25% of the people living within a given community volunteer in some way. The majority of those volunteers are in the 35 - 44 year age range and the national average for youth volunteers in the 12 – 18 year age range is 55%. Ballinger, Winters, Olfen, Wingate, Miles and Paint Rock have a significant number of volunteers throughout the community in organizations from the Rotary Club to Lions International to the various churches and other groups, such as the Ballinger Ministerial Alliance.
Churches do a great deal of good throughout the community through their volunteers and donations but they also do a great deal of good through their combined efforts. The Ballinger Carnegie Library’s annual Taste of Ballinger fundraiser was held on January 31st and is a prime example of the good that can come from organizations combining their efforts for a worthy cause. Nine churches participated in the event with members of their respective congregations cooking up some of their favorite recipes for the event and contributing to a cookbook. The churches that took part in the event were; First Baptist Church of Ballinger, Ninth Street Church of Christ, St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic church, First Presbyterian Church, First United Methodist Church, Grace Fellowship, Seventh Street Baptist Church, Jesus Christ Church and the First Christian Church.
In 2018 the Ballinger Noon Lions club gifted the location of Lions Club Plaza to the city. Longtime city attorney Ebb Grindstaff was the original owner of the land and he had also previously served as President of Lions International. The Noon Lions club donated $5,000 to the creation of the plaza. The area is still growing as Dorothy Dankworth donated a location to the city for the construction of the plaza fountain. Mrs. Dankworth also donated $5,000 to the project and the city has invested another $5,000 in the project.
The Noon Lions Club also created the Flag Project, in which members will go to businesses and set up flags on all major holidays. The service is $24 that goes towards Lions charities. The Lions also hold Bikefest every year during the Ballinger Ethic Festival, another event from which the proceeds to go great causes.
The Ballinger Rotary Club does a lot of charity work within the community. They put the annual Ballinger gun show on every year. The Rotary also holds a pancake supper. The proceeds go to their Adoption picnic that they have in Ballinger every year. Orphans and organizations come out to the picnic and many people become foster parents after meeting the orphans and hearing their stories. The orphans are also given backpacks containing items such as iPads.
Ballinger Memorial Hospital’s Dr. Bradley Bundrant along with Bobby Broyles and Michelle Aguilera of Ballinger Home Health formed the Health & Wellness Coalition of Runnels County. They do free health screening at events during the year and offer advice on living healthy. They are part of the Noon Lions Club and 2018 held a health and wellness screening downtown.
The Ballinger Ministerial Alliance is a group of local pastors and churches that operate the community food pantry located at 608 Strong avenue. The pantry offers more than food. They have used clothing and household items available for purchase at low prices. The pantry also helps with household utility bills. People in need bring their utility bills by on Monday mornings between the hours of 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
The Miles Empowerment Association (MEA) is a non-profit that has built a community playground that will open soon. The association is made up of volunteers whose goal is to, “Bring pride to the community of Miles by building a better future for the children and a brighter place to call home.” In 2018 the MEA applied for and received a grant from the San Angelo Health Foundation in the amount of $75,000.
Winters has the Samaritan House Food Pantry that serves those in need in their community. It is operated by the Winters Ministerial Alliance. They worked with Spring Market in Winters and were able to give out hams during Christmas.
The high school students also get involved in the community. Ballinger high school has the Impact club, part of Rotary International. They hold fundraisers and help the Rotary throughout the year. Ballinger high school’s DECA student president Hannah Holcomb created a program called “Boss’ closet.” The program gives professional attire to students and others for interviews and events such as band concerts. Holcomb has also organized food drives to help out the local food pantry.
Parents and other community members provide the manpower, time and resources to school groups such as athletic booster clubs, band booster clubs, FCCLA and DECA. Many colleges require students to have volunteer hours on their applications and that volunteering provides vital support to the community.
The volunteer fire departments across the county provide services and help whenever needed. The members, their families and others in the community help with their fundraisers through the year. It’s a collective effort that benefits everyone in their respective communities. Their volunteer work saves lives while putting their own lives in the line of danger.
There is no end to the number of groups that people volunteer with in their communities, from church ministries to VFDs, Meals on Wheels, libraries, park boards, United Way, Masonic lodges, etc. The good they do can never fully be quantified because they cover almost every aspect of their community.
The volunteers add color to the community. Without their efforts many communities would exist with nothing more than a bleak outlook on the future, with only government programs offering limited help. The members provide the oversight, planning, execution and monetary resources needed to make our communities better. Many local businesses join in with their support and are an integral part of the success of the volunteer groups from monetary donations to providing free services for events to allowing their employees time off to volunteer.