Both new and experienced, volunteers help make Good Neighbors work

December 6, 2018

The Norfolk Area Good Neighbors program is possible because of many good people who volunteer.

Bob Lutz and Verona Wantoch are prime examples of that.

Lutz, a first-year volunteer, said his wife, Susie, is the reason he is helping out this year now that he has retired. But he also said that a memory from many years ago regarding a single mother has stuck with him, through the years.

“I worked with a lady who had six children and was a single mom,” Lutz said. “Even though she worked full time, there was no way she was going to be able to get presents for her kids. She did all she could do to keep food on the table and a roof over their head.

“Somebody anonymously volunteered to buy gifts for all her children,” he said. “That was a long time ago and I still remember how much that meant to her, that her children would have the kind of Christmas that most of us take for granted. That’s what Good Neighbors is about.”

Indeed, it’s the volunteers who make the Norfolk Area Good Neighbors effort so special. The year-round program, sponsored by the Norfolk Ministerial Association, provides assistance to those less fortunate, especially during the holidays.

Lutz said his past gift-wrapping experience has really helped him this year as he assumed a volunteer leadership role with the Good Neighbors. But even without previous experience, he said, new volunteers will be trained by people who have been doing this longer.

“If you have chosen presents for children and wrapped them, that’s really the only skill required,” Lutz said.

Wantoch said she has been helping at Good Neighbors for about four years.

“(Good Neighbors) is special because we are helping people who are having a hard time and don’t have everything that they need,” she said.

Some of her jobs as a volunteer include gathering boxes in which to wrap gifts, setting up the Mount Olive Lutheran Church basement and doing general organizing once everything get rolling.

The final steps are to wrap the presents and send them out for delivery. This year, delivery date is set for Tuesday, Dec. 18.

“I had no idea what to expect,” Lutz said. “This is my first year doing this.”

Lutz volunteered to organize the donations. “We take the list of families that have requested aid and match them up the best we can,” he said.

More experienced volunteers help teach the newer ones how to do things.

“The other volunteers have a lot more experience with this,” Lutz said. “They have been at it a lot longer. They have shown me how to do it and shown me how to get organized and how the process works. I couldn’t have done it without them.

Good Neighbors will be accepting holiday assistance applications until Friday, Dec. 7. For more information, you can call the Good Neighbors office at 402-644-8155.

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