The Salvation Army highlights volunteers with awards luncheon in Leesburg, Florida

Mar 8, 2023 | by Brad Rowland

The Salvation Army highlights volunteers with awards luncheon in Leesburg, Florida

By: Christopher Priest

The Salvation Army is blessed with a magnitude of willing helpers it attracts through volunteering. This can be measured in so many areas of ministry and service. Most visibly of course is the bell ringer during the weeks leading to Christmas Day. It is estimated that during 2022, in the four US territories, there were over 1,270,000 individuals who officially volunteered for the organization.

The Salvation Army of Lake and Sumter Counties (Leesburg Corps) is one of the leading centers in the Southern Territory for its volunteer base. This was evident at the recent 2022 Annual Volunteer Luncheon, held in the corps gymnasium, when over 270 attended, representing a far greater number that are listed as volunteers at the corps. Advisory board membership, Angel Tree, Emergency Disaster Services, food service, Homework Help, Christmas Kettles, mentoring, sports, youth activities, and a host of other activities were represented at the event where numerous Awards were given for outstanding volunteerism. "We cannot do what we do without you!" said Lieutenant Jeremy Porter, Leesburg corps officer as he welcomed all to the event.

Two individuals were especially recognized: Robert Boyd, a soldier of the corps, and octogenarian, was named Top Bell Ringer 2022, (Robert is also a year-round volunteer at the Corps). Then Jackie Cepaitis as Volunteer of the Year 2022, for her untiring support and measurable efforts all throughout the year. Not least is her endless work with The Villages, Friends of The Salvation Army, who with her help raised $10,000 for Salvation Army Feeding Ministries at its annual Soup Off. According to Major Marie Harris, Leesburg Corps PR & Volunteer Coordinator: "She lives by the motto, ‘What more can I do for The Salvation Army!'". All award recipients were publicly recognized by Lieutenants Jeremy and Crystal Porter.

Special guests Lt. Colonels Kent and Melody Davis, Florida Division leaders supported, and Lt. Colonel Kent Davis brought the keynote, "Love Beyond Volunteering," citing Matthew 25:40, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." He related to his 35 years as a commissioned officer, and the countless opportunities he became involved in disaster response. Latterly the significant Salvation Army response to last year's hurricanes in the state of Florida, where he oversees all activity as divisional commander. He reiterated that volunteering in times of disaster brought many significant moments thanks to those who volunteered.

The corps staff each contributed to the success of the event with setup, decoration, serving food and of course the tear down and clean up afterward.

Lt. Colonel Melody Davis brought the event to a close with prayer.

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