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Salvation Army of Lee County honors volunteers from ’07; About 5,000 people put in over 30,000 hours

By Staff | Mar 19, 2008

The Salvation Army of Lee County recognized its thousands of volunteers at the 2008 Annual Civic Appreciation Luncheon hosted Tuesday afternoon at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater in Fort Myers.

While not all of the Salvation Army’s 5,000 volunteers from 2007 attended the luncheon, the theater was packed with hundreds of volunteers who, according to spokesperson Megan Spears, do what they do because their work fills a certain place within them.

“The people we recognized today are only a snapshot of everyone that assists us,” said Spears.

The volunteers logged more than 30,000 hours worth of their time to assist in the Salvation Army’s community-based programs, such as the ubiquitous Red Kettle program during the holidays or the Christmas Cheer program that provides toys and stockings to children in Lee County’s disadvantaged homes.

“There is no way we would be able to do what we do without these volunteers,” said Spears.

Before Maj. Austruberto Flores III paid tribute to the volunteers and community partners who assisted the Salvation Army last season, Jennifer Flores and Taylor Truesdale performed the song “Bless the Broken Road.”

As the luncheon came to a close, Flores announced, along with General Manager Meg Geltner, the awards for those people and organizations that went above and beyond last season.

The United States Postal Service workers were awarded the “Group of the Year,” Sam Galloway Ford was awarded the “Business of the Year,” Tom Birch was awarded the “Advisory Board Member of the Year” for serving on the Salvation Army Board for 16 years, and Carl and Donna Matheny were awarded “Volunteer of the Year.”

Flores said the Matheny family stood out this year because it handled more than 5,000 food bags and organized 70 to 80 volunteers recruited for the Christmas season.

“If it weren’t for them, I don’t know what we would do for Christmas time,” said Flores.

The Salvation Army has other community outreach programs that assist the county all year. Some include a family shelter that offers life-skills classes, Meals with Compassion which brings hot meals to the homeless and working poor, and a 26-week residential program that helps people with substance abuse problems.

For every dollar donated to the Salvation Army, approximately 91 cents is used to pay for programs that directly affect people.

The Salvation Army is currently accepting volunteers for 2008. For more information about how to volunteer, visit: www.salvationarmyleecounty.com.