By CATHY MOUNCE, Register Staff Writer
Volunteers in Service to Others (VISTO) held its annual “Stone Soup Lunch” March 22 at First Christian Church in Gainesville. The luncheon was an effort to express appreciation to those who volunteer their time, money, service and commodities during the past year.
Lake Kiowa resident John Cooper received the 2012 “Volunteer of the Year” award.
The VISTO mantra is to “help people get through times of crises and enable them to get back on their feet.
“We could not exist without the great assistance of our volunteers and donors,” said VISTO Executive Director Michelle Baldwin. “This luncheon is our way of saying thank you. We sent out over 85 invitations and we had a nice turnout with some food left over.”
The VISTO program has assisted over 13,000 people in the county this past year through donations of food, financial aid and as a source of information.
Since 2002, VISTO has partnered with local farmers or ranchers such as Connie Reiter who donates surplus eggs from her farm.
One of the many endeavors of VISTO, especially during the spring and summer months, is the Elm Street Community Garden near downtown Gainesville. The garden serves as a point within the community to teach others about the value of growing their own food.
VISTO administrative assistant and garden coordinator, Suzanne Yeager said she expects a banner year for the community garden.
“All of the garden plots have been adopted for the year and crops are currently being planted,” Yeager said. “ The planting season is underway.”
Many other volunteers were honored during the luncheon. Volunteers contributing 40 plus hours of service in 2012 include Crystal Anderson, Cathy Baskett, Bob Bloom, Callisburg Church of Christ, First Baptist Church of Valley View, Pioneer Baptist Church, Saints and Sinners, Marsha Seeber, the United Methodist Youth Group.
Al Hill, Kelly Lane, CSCD, and Nathan Newton contributed 100 plus hours in 2012.
Donors or ‘Partners in Service’ who contributed 1,000 plus pounds or $1,000 plus dollars or in-kind values are: Bearhead Baptist Church, June Cloud, Diamond JP Matco Tools, First Baptist Church Valley View, Gainesville Antique Car Club, Spencer and Kathryn Hicks, Innovative Charitable Solutions, Dr. Bob McLeroy, North Texas Medical Center, Reliant World Wide Plastics, Saints and Sinners, Tom Thumb, Lee and Janice Warder, John and Darlene Beck, Cross Timbers Church, Double OO Ranch, First Presbyterian Church, Gainesville ISD, Don and Sandra Jones, Luther and Carol Maners, NASCOGA, Pecan Tree Manor, Salvation Army, Valley View ISD, Whaley United Methodist Church, Robert & Barbara Bloom; G.L. Droll, Food for Families, Danny and Carolyn Hook, Lake Kiowa Kiwanis, Bob and Joyce Manner, Terry and Jan Neal, Pioneer Baptist Church, St. Paul’s Women’s Group, Mark and Lynette Scruggs, Mr & Mrs. Sylvan Walterscheid, Rebekah Wilson, Daryl, Shauna and Madison Clark, First Baptist Church Gainesville, Thomas and Linda Ford, Craig and Donna Hertel, Hoenig Trucking, Mary Klement, Matt’s Motors, Noah’s Ark, Carl and Sandra Ploeger, St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Temple Baptist Church, Robert & Robin Warden and Dr. Cheryl Wrinkle.
“Partners in Service” with over 5,000 in award value of donations include: Mark and Susan Metzler, Hillcrest Church of Christ, Rotary Club Gainesville, John A. Woods, CSCD, Helping Hands of Faith, Ronald and Shirley DeDoes. Top 5 contributors in each of the three donatable categories are as follows: Food, U.S. Postal Workers, Discalced Carmelite Nuns, Gainesville Firefighters, Weekly News of Cooke County, Wal-Mart #185.
Top five dollar contruibutors are: Cooke County United Way, Lake Kiowa Chapel, First Christian Church, Helping Hands of Faith, Mr. and Mrs. Ron DeDoes. Top five contributors of “In Kind” are: Petroflex N.A., Dallas Carmelite Nuns, CoServe Foundation, Salvation Army and Create Ad Agency.