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Volunteer opportunities abound
4 Volunteer pic1
Manager Angela McKinzie, left, and volunteer Marina Peulen sort and fold clothes at RIC Rack Helping Hand Thrift Store last week. The store is in need of volunteers. - photo by Chelsea Thomas Dawson Community News

How to help

Opportunities for volunteerism can be found in many locations throughout the community. Family Connection has a list and can be contacted at (706) 265-1981. The local chamber of commerce also has a list of area nonprofits. Contact: (706) 265-6278 or online at

Many people start a new year off with resolutions. For 2012, many local nonprofits hope volunteerism is among their goals.

No matter a person's age, gender, interests or skills, nonprofits throughout the area need volunteers to donate their time, services and abilities.

RIC Rack Helping Hand

Dawson County's RIC Rack Helping Hand Thrift Store and Food Bank could use sorters and assistants.

"We always need volunteers," said Angela McKinzie, manager. "The week before Christmas we had almost no one and it was a struggle. We appreciate all the time people can give us."

The thrift store has a constant stream of donations and deliveries, but few hands to sort and organize.

Volunteers are needed during store hours, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

All merchandise that is sold at RIC Rack provides funds for stocking the food pantry, which feeds an estimated 350 families at least once a month.

More than 150 tons of food is projected to be given away this year.

Humane Society

The Dawson County Humane Society is looking for volunteers who love animals and who are willing to get a little dirty.

According to director Debra Maxwell, there are more than 100 puppies, dogs, kittens and cats being cared for at the shelter.

Since the society has so many animals, it could use volunteers who are willing to give up a few hours each week to clean animal dishes, do laundry, lay fresh newspaper in cages and clean the facilities.

The society also seeks volunteers for its fundraising committee, public relations event planning and for helping offsite adoption teams on the weekends.

There are currently three teams traveling to locations in Cumming and Gainesville. The society would like to add a local Dawsonville team.

"The biggest need we have right now is starting a new offsite adoption team," said Carolyn Bowen, president.

"If someone could volunteer on a Saturday or Sunday for a few hours, we need people to take the animals out into the community to help people meet them."

Georgia Racing Hall of Fame

For those interested in history, the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame has spots for volunteers to work the cash register and souvenir stand, as well as to greet visitors and give tours.

"Anyone that has an interest in racing and drivers is more than welcome to come volunteer, even if just for two hours a month," said volunteer Tommy Hosea.

The Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, a museum recognizing the legends of Georgia's racing heritage, is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Adult Learning Center

For those with administrative skills the Lanier Technical College Adult Learning Center is seeking a volunteer who can enter data for two hours a week.

It could also use a front desk assistant to greet people.

"We rely on volunteers for the services we provide. We need substitute teachers and tutors always," said Pat Story, lead instructor at the center.

Rape Response

Adults who have a gift for listening and counseling are sought at Rape Response Inc., an organization providing services to the community and survivors of sexual assault.

Advocates are needed on evenings and weekends to answer hotline calls.

Volunteers are free to maintain their own schedules since they use a cell phone system to respond to any telephone or hospital emergency call.

"For us to be available 24/7 for those who need us, we have to have at least 25 advocates active at a time," said Cathy Drerup, victim advocate.

"Active" volunteers are those who have been trained and who are available. Upcoming training sessions are on Feb. 11, 16, 23 and 25, with times available online.

Also, volunteers are sought for health fairs or for service on the board of directors.

KARE for Kids

For residents who enjoy giving back to children, KARE for Kids could use volunteers as it prepares for upcoming events.

According to officials, the group is always in need of helping hands and minds for the preparation of the annual Mountain Moonshine Festival held in downtown Dawsonville each October.