The hearts of Bea and Art Sanders remain open all year long, past the month of February.
"We help people as they come along," Bea Sanders said. "We just try to fill in where there's a void or there's a need."
Through their organization called Concerned Women Inc., the Grovetown couple, equipped with a band of volunteers that includes Fort Gordon soldiers, provide assistance to those in the community needing a helping hand.
A lot of the couple's time is spent feeding the homeless at the Master's Table Soup Kitchen in downtown Augusta. They started volunteering there after Art Sanders retired from the military in 1997.
"They make home-cooked meals to make the people feel really at home," said Shirley Lester Thomas, the soup kitchen manager. "It's fun when you meet people, and their heart is in it."
The Sanderses relish in decorating the soup kitchen for the holidays.
For Christmas and Thanksgiving, members of Concerned Women provided turkey dinners to United We Care in Grovetown and decorated the soup kitchen with holiday trimmings.
On Valentine's Day, the couple and the volunteers laid out festive tablecloths and passed out bags full of candy. They held a clothing drive.
Concerned Women members visit the soup kitchen at least six times a year. In addition to cooking, the group helps clean up and raise the spirits of those at the kitchen.
"If you ever want to just go out and get a real shock on reality, the soup kitchen is the best place to go," Art Sanders said.
The Master's Table serves about 350 homeless people daily, but when Concerned Women members drop in, usually 450 people stop by, Thomas said.
After five years of existence, Concerned Women has grown to about 35 volunteers from Richmond and Columbia counties.
The couple operate the organization's day-to-day functions out of their two-story home. The volunteers stay busy throughout the year collecting household and personal-care items to make care packages for those needing assistance.
"We just say that we are blessed," Bea said. "We're not rich, but we just try to help somebody else.
"We have more than we need, so we try to give some of that back to the community."
Concerned Women also aids Columbia County Cares with its annual spaghetti dinner.
After purchasing a computer for the Grovetown Senior Center, group members want to provide the center with a computer stand soon.
In the future, the Sanderses hope to find a building to store materials and serve as an educational center for youths and the elderly.
"They're doers of the word instead of just hearers," Thomas said. "I don't find too many of those."
For information about Concerned Women, call (706) 854-1338 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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