The people who work with the Columbia County Cares food pantry are accustomed to giving to others. Last month, they were recognized for their accomplishments.
The Greater Augusta chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals chose the nonprofit organization for its 2008 Outstanding Volunteer Association Award at the 16th annual National Philanthropy Day event in November.
"Really and truly, I think it comes down to the nuts and bolts," said Beverly Peltier, former chapter president. "You have a group of people (who) are volunteering their time, helping to make a difference in their little area of the world."
The food pantry was one of four organizations nominated, she said. A panel of five judges, composed of previous recipients and members from the chapter's board of directors, chose the winner.
"The judges really take a look at what the organization is doing and its impact in the community," Peltier said. "It just seems like, every year, there's one particular group or organization that meets that criteria, and in this case, it was Columbia County Cares."
The organization, headquartered in Appling, was nominated for the second consecutive year. It provided food for 14,147 county residents in 2007 and 12,664 people through October, said Lou Reda, the agency's director, who nominated Columbia County Cares for the award.
"I was very surprised," he said. "In the Augusta area, there are so many loving and caring organizations, and we're just one among many."
The food pantry was formed in 1997. About 50 people, including volunteers, board members and the executive committee, make up Columbia County Cares.
"It's exciting for Columbia County Cares," he said. "I'm only a little part of it. There's so many people working together to do the mission that we're doing. With the economy going the way it is and just the way things are going, we're blessed that we're able to be here to help people."
Previous recipients of the Outstanding Volunteer Association Award, which was first given in 2005, were the Fort Gordon Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, the volunteer board of University Hospital and the board of directors of the Richmond County Medical Society Project Access Inc.
"I hope that as people see that we've won that award, they'll recognize what we're doing and they'll want to be a part of it," Reda said. "That's what I'd really like to see."
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