ATTLEBORO - Hundreds of volunteers at social and human service agencies were recognized Thursday at the 26th annual National Volunteer Day Celebration at Attleboro High School.
The event was sponsored by the Area Community Council, Attleboro Elks 1014, Rockland Trust, Sensata Technologies and Sturdy Memorial Hospital.
Mayor Kevin Dumas was joined by city and state officials in wishing the volunteers well.
"For all the wonderful things that you do in Attleboro and surrounding communities, we're very thankful because those are things we cannot always do ourselves," Dumas said. "To be able to provide services that make a difference in people's lives, that's something that's very, very important because without that help from all of you and all the thousands of hours you give, it wouldn't be such a special place."
City Councilor Walter Thibodeau said volunteers serve others selflessly, but it's nice to have someone say "thank-you" once in a while.
City Councilor Cherie Felos also extended appreciation.
"You're the unsung heroes. Hopefully today there's a little singing for you," she said.
Sturdy Memorial Hospital Director of Volunteer and Student Services Anne Messier - who has coordinated the event for more than 23 years - said the need for volunteers has grown.
"There are more and more people volunteering and helping out today, and more organizations using volunteers to do their work," she said. "We need to say thank you. We can't say it enough."
The two first-place winners of a student essay contest read their work.
The high school winner was Olivia Hitchcock, an 11th-grader from Bishop Feehan High School.
The middle school winner was Hannah Fayard, of Warwick, R.I., a seventh-grader from Dayspring Christian Academy of South Attleboro.
The other high school winners, both 11th-graders from Bishop Feehan High School, were Carolyn Chlebek of Foxboro in second place and Chandler Townsend of Attleboro as honorable mention.
The middle school winners were: Amanda Semple, a seventh-grader from Attleboro's Wamsutta Middle School in second place and Caitlin Hanley, an eighth-grader from Attleboro's Brennan Middle School, won honorable mention.
The first-place essays will be published in The Sun Chronicle on Monday's Community page.
Other officials who attended the ceremony included State Reps. George Ross, R-Attleboro, Betty Poirier, R-North Attleboro, and Steven Howitt, R-Seekonk.
City Councilors William Bergevine and Richard Conti, School Superintendent Pia Durkin; and representatives from U.S. Reps. James McGovern, D-Worcester, Barney Frank, D-Newton, and state Sen. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham also attended.
Laura Calverley is a freelance writer for The Sun Chronicle. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.