As 2013 dawns, make a resolution to volunteer to make the community a better place for all.

As 2013 dawns, make a resolution to volunteer to make the community a better place for all.

This column offers a rundown of volunteer opportunities to allow folks to invest in the community, including a few in time for the holidays.

Contact the Gulf County Chamber of Commerce, Trish Petrie at Turtle Beach Inn or Tim Croft at to provide additional opportunities for this column.

Here are a number of opportunities:

* Christmas Dinner volunteer schedule - The gathering of volunteers is needed at 12 noon ET on Dec. 24. The volunteers will be assembling boxes, setting up the tables needed, packing desert cake for the meals and setting out signs, registration, information and supplies. All of the preparation and actual assembling of the Christmas dinners will be done at the Oak Grove Church located at 603 Madison St.  The many volunteers will reassemble on Christmas Day at 8:30 a.m. to start the assembly of the 700-plus meals. There will be a need for over 80 volunteer’s to make this project of love conducted by the caring, loving men women and children that will be helping.

* They are gearing up for the 2013 Great America Plein Air Paint-out. They need volunteers! Come join and learn more about participating in the 2013 activities.

The 2013 Plein Air Kickoff/Volunteer Appreciation Gathering will be 6:30 p.m. ET Monday, Jan. 14 at the Indian Pass Raw Bar. There will be oysters, shrimp and gumbo. Bring a friend.

* Goodwill Career Training Center is asking retirees and volunteers to share their expertise and skills by volunteering to tutor or mentor. Many participants at the Center need help completing their GED, including language, writing, mathematics and computer skills. Please contact Tandra Burns at 229-1273.

* Be a part of making a difference in your local schools! Volunteer to teach a Junior Achievement class at the fifth-, eighth- or high school-level, and help teach students real LIFE SKILLS. Junior Achievement teaches our children about running businesses, managing money, and preparing to get a job.

All of our classes are taught by volunteers from the community. Whether you are an employee, employer, retiree, or stay-at-home parent, Junior Achievement values the life experiences you can share with the students while teaching the Junior Achievement courses.

All volunteers are provided course “kits” that have everything you need to teach a class, as well as training that will help you feel more comfortable in the classroom. All kits have hands-on activities that keep the students engaged and interested.

A class lasts 5-7 weeks, depending on the age group, and meets once each week, during the school day, for an hour. The amount of commitment time is 5-7 hours to teach the class, two hours for training, and your preparation time which varies from person to person.

The classes are sponsored by individuals and businesses in the community, and by the Tapper Foundation and Port St. Joe Capacity Building Fund. There is no cost to the school or the volunteer.

Junior Achievement of NW FL is a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to teaching students K-12 about entrepreneurship, personal finance, and work readiness skills. We provide 13 classes at the 5th, 8th, and high school levels in Port St. Joe, and 6 classes at the 8th and high school levels in Wewahitchka.

For information about volunteering for fall or spring classes, please contact: Jackie Brooks at or call at 850-624-0524.

* Are you interested in making a difference in someone’s life? Covenant Hospice is in need of volunteers in Gulf County.  Covenant Hospice provides a special kind of caring for persons with life-limiting illnesses, their families and loved ones. We offer many volunteer opportunities for all ages, to fit into any schedule.  Our volunteers are the heart of the Covenant Hospice team.  They receive free specialized training to provide companionship and support to patients and families, or to assist with fundraising, administrative support, and community outreach.  If you, your church, or organization, would be interested in becoming a part of our Covenant Hospice team, please call Shelley Frazier, Volunteer Services Manager at 850.785.3040.  We would be happy to bring the training to you.

* Abused and neglected children need a voice in court!  There are currently several children without volunteer advocate representation in Gulf County.  The 14th Circuit Guardian Ad Litem Program wants these children spoken for.  Be a strong, dependable voice, appointed by the court, to support these children.  Training classes are starting in August.  Please call 747-5180 for more information and an application. 

* Volunteers are needed to assist greeting guests and doing office duties at the St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge office in Apalachicola.  Introduce visitors to displays and information about St. Vincent Island.  Call (850) 653-8808 and ask for Charlotte if you can help on Mondays and/or Wednesdays.

 * Able-bodied volunteers are needed to help with outdoor work on St. Vincent Island.  You need to be able to tolerate heat and sweat, but the island and wildlife are amazing.  Call Shelley at (850) 527-8535 if you can help on the island.