Volunteers can make vital difference

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On the cover of Tuesday’s edition, the Daily Sentinel featured what is traditionally a rite of the season that many take for granted — a volunteer ringing the bell and seeking donations in support of the Salvation Army’s local citadel and the many good works it does both during the holiday season and year-round.

In today’s edition, there is a less traditional appeal for volunteers — from the Oneida County Health Department which is seeking volunteers to help with responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, including contact tracing.

Help, the county Health Department says, is needed to make calls ranging from notifying patients of positive test results to contacting those who came in contact with confirmed positive cases to trace exposures for quarantine.

Both sets of volunteers are vital to the health of our community.

Bell ringers, as well as those who will volunteer at the Rome Rescue Mission, local food pantries or other area agencies and organizations, understand the benefit to get involved.

This year, human service organizations say, will reveal massive needs in the community, including, but hardly limited to help to feed themselves and their families a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal as well as with helping to bring tangible signs of Christmas cheer to their children or to isolated senior citizens.

We are reminded of the scene from the conclusion of the popular film “The Polar Express” in which the boy, now an old man, laments how most have stopped being able to hear the joyful ring of Santa’s bell.

Perhaps equally as sad is the notion that there are those who can hear the ring of different holiday bells but lack the means
or the spirit to be able to respond accordingly.

There is no doubt that the role of a
contact tracer is difficult — but it is essential if we are to limit the spread of COVID-19. Regionally, the Mohawk Valley has done an excellent job in limiting the spread of the virus, now, the county needs our help so that it can help others in keeping the coronavirus at bay. Failure to do so will undoubtedly bring additional restrictions.

For those who can volunteer — whether in assisting those less fortunate be able to celebrate the magic of the holidays or in helping the county help beat back the rising tide of infection — we applaud you for your help and dedication.

For those who are unable, for a variety of reasons, we urge you to continue to be vigilant and take the necessary personal precautions and practice good hygiene to keep yourself and your family safe this holiday season and for the new year to come.

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