ATTLEBORO - This year marks the 30th year that local agencies in the Attleboro area will come together to recognize the many volunteers who make the world a better place for the people they serve.

The 30th annual Volunteer Day Celebration will take place at 11 a.m. Friday, April 17 at the Attleboro Elks Hall on South Main Street in Attleboro.

The event, which is held in conjunction with National Volunteer Week April 12-April 18, will include a ceremony and luncheon sponsored by Sturdy Memorial Hospital. Other sponsors include Rockland Trust, Sensata Technologies and the Attleboro Elks.

Mayor Kevin Dumas, along with local and state officials, will present awards and proclamations to the volunteers.

"I'm always so excited for Volunteer Day. It's a wonderful day. We want to say thank you and tell them that we appreciate everything they do," said Sturdy Memorial Hospital's Director of Volunteer and Student Services Anne Messier.

More than 300 volunteers will be honored at the event and Messier says it is well-deserved because things wouldn't be the same without them.

"Can you imagine if we didn't have all these volunteers? And volunteers don't do it for the recognition. They do it out of the goodness of their hearts," Messier said.

It is also an opportunity for the smaller agencies to do something special for their volunteers.

"Many agencies don't have the budget to recognize their volunteers. This gives them an opportunity to do that and being able to do it all together, to publicly recognize everyone, is wonderful. It's their day," Messier said.

The Volunteer Day celebration has grown quite a bit over the years, says Messier. It began with a handful of people who had an idea to do something for all the volunteers.

"It's grown from a handful of agencies and 40 volunteers, to close to 50 agencies and 300 volunteers," Messier said.

Each year organizers tried to make it even better.

"We wanted to involve even more volunteers and involve young people. We thought about it and came up with the essay contest," Messier said.

This year's Volunteer Day celebration will again include a student essay contest for middle/junior high and high school students sponsored by Rockland Trust and judged by the Greater Attleboro Women of Today.

"By participating in the essay contest, the students are getting involved in the world of volunteerism and they are able to find out about volunteer opportunities," Messier said.

This year's theme, for the celebration and the topic for the essay contest, is "Volunteers: A Work of Heart."

Awards will be presented to the students and the two first-place winners will read their essays at the luncheon.

There also will be a special surprise to celebrate the 30th anniversary.

"Volunteers touch so many people. They help kids, the elderly, the environment; they visit people who are sick. We can't thank these people enough," Messier said.

For more information on the event, contact Anne Messier at Sturdy Memorial Hospital at 508-236-8800.

LAURA CALVERLEY is a freelance writer for The Sun Chronicle. She can be reached at lacalverley@gmail.com.

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