The United Way of Liberty County recently named the Red Club youth organization of the year and Guardians in Action the civic organization of the year.
Both groups’ leaders say their members have fun while they serve others.
“Even cleaning up (trash from roads), we try to make it fun,” said Karen Bell, youth chairman for the American Red Cross on Fort Stewart. The Red Club is a Red Cross-affiliated organization.
Bell said the Red Club’s 42 youth volunteers have adopted a portion of Veterans Parkway from the post gate to Highway 196 in partnership with the Keep Liberty Beautiful program. Club members clean the highway once every three months, Bell said.
“They have a sign that was given to them by Keep Liberty Beautiful,” she said. “They’re real proud of that.”
Guardians in Action Executive Director Courtney Davis, and her husband, Earnest Davis, who founded the civic organization, say Guardians is a family friendly group in which even the 27 members’ children can get involved in community service.
Kids can help their parents by holding open a bag or counting cans during a food drive, Davis said. The organization assists needy residents in Liberty and Long counties.
Guardians in Action helps with food drives, delivery and food pick-up for Manna House, helps with Liberty County Homeless Coalition and partners with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Coastal Empire, according to the United Way.
In addition to its partnership with Keep Liberty Beautiful, the Red Club has partnered with Youth Challenge Academy; volunteered at Winn Army Community Hospital, Army Community Services and the post gym; and created care packages for troops. Last weekend, Red Club members were at the commissary on post to collect items like bottled water, flashlights and non-perishable foods for disaster-preparedness kits, Bell said.
Red Club members range in age from 12-17, according to Bell.
“Our youth must attend an orientation,” she said. “If they want to volunteer at the hospital, they have to go through a hospital orientation.”
Bell said the Red Club’s busiest time is summer, though members meet once a month year-round. Club members can be placed as summer volunteers at various organizations on Fort Stewart, she said. The youngsters will log and track their volunteer hours through the Volunteer Connect program, according to Bell. Some high-school students can fulfill their community-service requirement for the Liberty County public schools by being active in the Red Club, she said.
“They amaze me. They have so much to do with school and with other activities,” Bell said. She added that many Red Club members are at an age where they can get a paying job, but instead they give of themselves by volunteering with the Red Cross.
Guardians in Action was established July 23, 2012, Davis said. It consists of military members, their dependents and other local residents, she said.
Davis said the Guardians will hold a food drive Saturday at the IGA in Ludowici.
“This will be our third one,” she said. Davis said that at past food drives, Smiley Elementary School students and staff donated more than 1,500 items.
“We have a ministering program where we accept youth and mentor to them,” she said. The organization, which has filed 501(c)(3) paperwork, will offer a scholarship program this year for seniors in Liberty and Long counties.
The group also tries to focus on raising awareness of homelessness in the area, Davis said. The Guardians also are willing to help families with clothing and other necessities following a fire.
“When the United Way asks for our help, if we’re available we’ll be there,” she said.
The civic organization has collected toys for Long County’s HeadStart children, and members have volunteered to read to school children. They also helped Smiley Elementary with its Trunk-or-Treat event last Halloween, Davis said.
“People in Long County are in need and are hungry just like in Liberty County,” she said.
Guardians in Action has annual dues of $50 a year. Davis said if that someone wants to volunteer with the group for an event but can’t commit to being a full-time, paying member, that’s OK.
“We don’t want money to be a factor,” she said.
For more information on the Red Club, call 912-492-6401.
For more information on the Guardians in Action call 504-344-4269.