EDITORIAL: Wither(ing) volunteers?

Wither the Parksville Qualicum Beach region’s volunteers?

We know you’re out there. Just this week we saw dozens of dedicated volunteers from the Arrowsmith Agricultural Association and the Arrowsmith Community Recreation Association (ACRA) — and friends — shepherd hundreds of visitors through their annual fair-themed Family Day celebration at the Coombs Fairgrounds.

Every week, volunteer-driven groups offer various activities throughout the region. Our demographic includes a substantial cadre of people with both the means and the time to share, and they do so. This is not a community of shirkers.

And yet, chinks have appeared in recent weeks that suggests our spirit of volunteerism may not be as broad as it is deep.

Last week, organizers of the Parksville’s annual KidFest announced the popular summer event at Community Park may be at risk of cancellation if more volunteers are not found.

Hot on the heels of that bombshell, we now have the Lighthouse Country Fall Fair in Qualicum Bay also suggesting the potential demise of its annual event, due to the same needed injection of people power.

These are not unpopular events. They draw hundreds of revelers, including many people from outside the immediate region. So it’s not as if KidFest or the Lighthouse Fall Fair face dwindling attendance or loss of interest.

The NEWS has also, just in the past week, received word from the Salvation Army Food Bank that it is in need of volunteer drivers for its healthy choices fresh food program. And from the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, which is seeking volunteer instructors for a series of new educational programs at the centre.

Several of these groups have pointed out that they still retain a dedicated, yet shrinking, core of volunteers. But these stalwarts are in many cases aging, and in some cases are involved with multiple volunteer projects.

We’re coming out of a season in which area residents were asked to donate food, toys and money to help needy families to enjoy the Christmas holiday season.

Now it’s time to find some people to donate themselves. Volunteering can take many forms. If you have specific skills and expertise, so much the better. But anyone willing to share a few hours will be welcomes with a smile and an offer for training.

If you’ve got the time, consider pitching in. The last thing we want is for our legendary volunteerism to wither away.

— Parksville Qualicum Beach News

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