Base offers myriad of ways to volunteer to help

CAMP PENDLETON —Whether it’s mentoring youth, leading Girl Scouts, looking after animals at a shelter or advocating for Alzheimer’s disease, there are numerous opportunities for service members and their families to give back by volunteering their time and services in and around their communities.
The Camp Pendleton Volunteer Program, a component of Marine Corps Community Service’s Readiness and Community Support team, aims to provide learning opportunities, training, job experience, development of interpersonal relationships, networking and academic enhancement through their events.
“Our program logged more than 89,000 hours with the help of more than 5, 000 volunteers in 2010,” said Yolanda Manning, the volunteer program’s coordinator. “There’s been a significant increase recently in the number of volunteers who are eager to donate time.”
Volunteer opportunities are provided by the program for events both on and off base, said Manning.
“In addition to on base opportunities, such as Operation Bigs, animal shelters and veteran appreciation events, we also work hand in hand with  multiple outside organizations, including Habitat 4 Humanity, the Special Olympics and Operation Homefront,” she said.
In addition to the certain sense of accomplishment that comes with volunteering in support of organizations or individuals and their causes, volunteering can result in other means of recognition.
The volunteer program here regularly recognizes the hard work and efforts of its volunteers, routinely handing out awards including Volunteer of the Month/Year, Military Volunteer of the Year, Volunteer Unit of the Year and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Award.
Special awards and recognition are also given to service members within military branches and units who selflessly donate their time and talent to causes bigger than themselves.
Staff Sgt. David Vogt, command services and military justice chief with the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, was recognized as the Military Times Marine of the Year in 2010, due in part to the more than 500 volunteer hours he completed within both the local and base communities.
“As a service member, volunteering is about serving our nation in more than one dimension,” said Vogt. “Marines must understand that they can combine their contributions to society, be it by going to war or donating time to an animal shelter.”
For young Marines just starting out or decades-long salty devil dogs, it’s never too late to start volunteering time and making an impact on not only another’s life, but your own as well.
“There is an unspoken reward that accompanies the knowledge that the time you’ve volunteered, no matter how small, has impacted lives in a positive way,” said Vogt. “It’s priceless.”
For more information on the Camp Pendleton Volunteer Program, call (760) 725-3856.

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