GREENFIELD — Dewey Woolsey scrawled a ninja bunny on a white paper bag.
Once he was satisfied with his artwork, the 13-year-old filled his decorated bag with single servings of fruit, pudding, crackers and a cereal bar and handed the bag off to go to a county child in need.
At the end of the 11th-annual volunteer fair Tuesday at Hancock County Public Library, United Way of Central Indiana officials delivered boxes filled with the bags of snacks to three county nonprofit organizations serving children.
Tables stacked high with the food items led into the library’s community room Tuesday, where about 30 local nonprofit organizations beckoned those who attended to join their ranks. Conducted in conjunction with National Volunteer Week, the event provides a one-stop shop for individuals and groups seeking ways to give back to the community. It gives nonprofit organizations the chance to share what they do and how people who lend them an extra set of hands can help them accomplish their goals.
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And for the first time, this year’s fair gave those who attended a taste of just how quickly their efforts can make a difference in the community, said United Way graduate assistant Brittany Wickliff, who directed the on-site volunteer effort.
“The families who have stopped by have seemed to really enjoy the opportunity,” Wickliff said.
Makayla Backus, who joined Woolsey in decorating and filling the paper bags, said she liked getting to help people at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hancock County, the Hope House and the Landing, the organizations that received the snack packs.
The quick, assembly-line setup, or kit build, is just one of the volunteer opportunities promoted through the annual volunteer fair, which is co-sponsored by the United Way of Central Indiana and the library, said Jeannie Roberts, the local United Way office’s volunteer engagement coordinator.
The fair typically attracts about 200 people to the library — this year, it snagged the attention of one Shelby County resident, Melanie Nichols, through a Facebook post.
She put her name down as a prospective volunteer with several Hancock County organizations, including Partners for Animal Welfare Society and the county’s Court-Appointed Special Advocates program, which pairs volunteers with children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect, she said.
Holly Brooks and Macy Colclazier, both of Greenfield, came to the library together to find opportunities for Brooks, in hopes a volunteer position might lead to a full-time job, Colclazier said.
Nonprofit officials say they make sure to reserve a table at the volunteer fair every year because they are able to connect with people passionate about their causes.
On Tuesday, PAWS director Nancy Rubino lured passersby with two 7-week-old kittens and an adoptable dog, Girlie. The organization is always seeking more volunteers to groom and socialize the animals housed in the no-kill nonprofit shelter.
Rubino hoped having a few fluffy companions on hand would draw animal-lovers to the booth.
Setting up a table at the volunteer fair is a quick way to find people looking to donate their time to a good cause, whether they want to do a one-time event or sign up for an ongoing commitment, said Mary Ann Wietbrock of Pennsy Trails of Hancock County.
The organization, which promotes the east-west bicycle and walking trail, sought volunteers to staff a couple upcoming events but also needs people with a passion for the trails to join its board, she said.
Diane Buenger, a board member of the Friends of the Library, made sure she had both short- and longer-term volunteer opportunities available for prospective helpers. One short-term volunteer option was to serve a two-hour shift manning the organization’s quarterly book sale, proceeds of which go toward the library’s program schedule.
“We try to keep the shifts small so people don’t feel stuck,” she said.
This year’s fair offered a diverse array of volunteering options for people who came by, from serving at-risk teens at the Landing Place to promoting a vibrant downtown business district through Greenfield Main Street, Roberts said.
Hours into the event, she surveyed the crowd with a smile.
“I love it when the room is noisy,” she said. “It means people are communicating and matches are being made.”
The 11th-annual Hancock County Volunteer Fair is offered in conjunction with National Volunteer Week.
If you missed the fair but would like more information about local volunteer opportunities, contact the United Way of Central Indiana at 317-467-2346.