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Volunteers knit our community together: Our View

Community shows each year how much it values giving back.

3:07 PM, Oct. 23, 2013  |  Comments
Wausau volunteers participate in a previous Make a Difference Day. This year's volunteering event is Saturday.
Wausau volunteers participate in a previous Make a Difference Day. This year's volunteering event is Saturday.
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Saturday is Make a Difference Day, and people from all over the country will be pitching in to help others and make their communities just a little bit better.

We are blessed to live in a place where volunteerism and giving back is part of the fabric of the community. It is always great to see people coming together in this way. In the Wausau area, 1,609 volunteers participated in Make a Difference Day's rake-a-thon event last year, according to the United Way of Marathon County. And that does not even count the people who volunteered in other ways, or who took the day as an occasion to give back in small, private ways.

For this area, making a difference is no one-day-a-year event.

? We see it in the annual response to Gannett Wisconsin Media's Stock the Shelves campaign, a fundraiser for the Marathon County Hunger Coalition and food pantries across the state. Last year, central Wisconsin community members raised more than $73,000. (Our current campaign is open through Nov. 24; visit www.cfoncw.org to make a donation.)

? In our Helping Hands feature each week, the United Way submits a profile a local community volunteer, someone who gives his or her time to help other people. This week, it was Eileen Rantanen, 78, of Wausau, who has volunteered at Aspirus Wausau Hospital and the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services, among other institution. And Rantanen is just one of thousands who could talk about their volunteer experiences.

? The Kiwanis Club of Greater Wausau each year collects winter coats and other cold-weather gear to distribute to those in need through its Coats for Kids campaign. Last year's drive collected 1,100 winter items, according to organizers. You can drop off your donations Saturday at the National Guard Armory, or until Nov. 6 at numerous locations around the city.

For our part in this year's Make a Difference Day, Daily Herald Media employees and volunteers will be giving away carbon monoxide detectors at the Wausau and Weston fire stations between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Saturday or while supplies last. We did a similar giveaway last year, and the response showed us that there is a need here.

However you choose to make a difference, know that your community is proud of you, and your efforts are part of the social ties that make this a community and not just a city. We can all be proud of the important work local volunteers do.

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports