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The giving spirit of suburbanites
Daily Herald Editorial Board
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Published: 4/28/2008 12:05 AM

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It's National Volunteer Week this week, and all one has to do is read the pages of the Daily Herald or search dailyherald.com to find fine examples of volunteerism in the suburbs.

Today you can read about the volunteers from Willow Creek Community Church and throughout the Chicago area who are working to pack meals to feed 10,000 hungry children for a year.

Or you can read about the volunteers recognized by Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Kane County, which is celebrating 20 years of advocating for abused and neglected children.

On Sunday, we published a story about the 200 volunteers, including a strong contingent of Boy Scouts, who helped clean up the Illinois Prairie Path in Wheaton and hundreds more who helped clean up all 62 miles of trails.

There also was a full-page advertisement from Central DuPage Hospital thanking their hundreds of volunteers.

And we also featured Mary Stitt, a retired educator from Arlington Heights, who volunteers locally and abroad to help others and provide an excellent example for others.

"Volunteering is a great way to meet new people … to experience different cultures," Stitt said. "Also, I hope I am making a difference in the world."

Making a difference, whether it be in your neighborhood and to help others in need somewhere else on the globe, is what volunteering is all about. And this week, organizations are saying "thank you" to all the volunteers who devote their time and energy to making a difference.

We want to say "thank you" to those volunteers as well. And we want to encourage all of our readers to find an organization or a cause to volunteer their time. Food pantries, resale shops, medical centers, nursing homes, Meals on Wheels, homeless shelters, environmental agencies, schools, blood banks -- these and much more can use your help, according to volunteer organizations. And as any volunteer knows, you get so much in return.

"In this day and age, it's easy to become jaded and to sit on the sidelines," said Donald Hudson, the chief judge of the 16th Judicial Circuit, at the event recognizing the CASA volunteers in Kane County. "To give a child a CASA is to give them a voice, and to give them a voice is to give them hope."

At www.1-800-volunteer.org, finding a volunteer opportunity is as easy as typing in your ZIP code. It also lists information for local volunteer centers, such as the Volunteer Center of Northwest Suburban Chicago in Arlington Heights, the Volunteer Center of United Way of Lake County in Gurnee and the Volunteer Center of McHenry County.