Buckner International, based in Dallas and which operates childen’s and other services in Longview, is very proud of its volunteers.
One they are especially pleased with is Melanie Wright of Gilmer.
Mrs. Wright, whose husband Alan is the vocational agriculture teacher at Union Grove High School, has been volunteering with some of Buckner’s many programs in Longview for about two years now.
“Buckner helps people in need,” she said. They run an adoption program and have an orphanage in Dallas. They also have a retirement community, Westminster, in Longview.
“I started volunteering with them about two years ago, through the Alpine Church of Christ in Longview,” she said.
She initially started helping with Buckner’s Summer Feeding Program, in which they go to a low-income apartment complex and make sure the residents, especially children, have enough to eat.
This past summer, she helped with Fit for Life, a life-skills program at the apartments. She helped watch children and conducted a Bible class for them while their mothers were learning life skills.
That ministry was at midday on Wednesdays.
“We were able to help everyone,” she said.
On Thursday afternoons, 3 to 5, she helps at South Ward Elementary School, helping children with reading, math and Bible lessons.
“We really need more volunteers for that,” she said.
Currently, she hopes to help Buckner develop a “snack-pack” program, similar to what is in Gilmer schools, in which low-income children would be sent home with a backpack of food for the weekend.
She said some children get little or nothing to eat, except when they are at school, and may go an entire weekend without a meal.
“You’ve got to feed them before you can teach them,” she said. She hopes to raise $15,000 for that program.
Anyone interested in volunteering is invited to call Mrs. Wright at 903-238-7463.
Mrs. Wright home-schools her three youngest children, Garison, Maddi and Garrett.
The Wrights’ oldest son, Grayson, 15, is enrolled at Union Grove High School.
Buckner’s web site lists four key “focus ministries”: Foster Care and Adoption, Family Transition Programs, Family Hope Centers and Buckner Senior Living.
“National Volunteer Week is about taking action and encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change—discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to make a difference,” according to its web site.
“National Volunteer Week, a program of Points of Light, was established in 1974 and has grown exponentially each year, with thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled throughout the week.”
“This year marks the 40th anniversary of National Volunteer Week, demonstrating the enduring importance of recognizing our country’s volunteers for their vital contributions.”
For a community of volunteers like Gilmer, that is a fitting endorsement.