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Get ready for Gwinnett's annual Great Days of Service

Want to make a difference in your community? Do you want to be a part of the country's largest two-day volunteer event right here in Gwinnett County?

Then sign up to participate in this year's Gwinnett Great Days of Service taking place Oct. 28-29. You can select from a potential list of more than 200 projects.

This year we have many different projects from landscaping to clothing, food and other supply drives. There is even a need for pet food and other supplies for the Ahimsa House, a shelter for the animals of domestic violence victims.

How many volunteers will it take to get all of this done in two days? Last year it took more than 70,000. We want this to be the best event ever, so let's see if we can exceed 70,000 again this year.

This annual event was created six years ago in the spirit of Gwinnett's slogan, Success Lives Here. The Great Days of Service are designed to gain community awareness for the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services, a nonprofit agency, and the 800-plus health and human service agencies and organizations the Coalition represents and supports. The Great Days of Service Steering Committee works with these agencies to address specific needs in the county that are being overlooked and to complete defined service projects as a community, while educating citizens and community leaders about the needs around them and actively engaging them to serve those in need.

None of this would be possible without the generosity of our wonderful sponsors. Our presenting sponsor this year is Primerica Financial Services. Our other sponsors so far include Discover Mills, Proof of the Pudding, Hayes James Engineering, Day Retail, Scientific Atlanta, Emory Eastside Medical Center, the Gwinnett Daily Post, Parent Magazine, Georgia Power, People's Bank and Trust, Precision Planning, The Quin Group, Duke Realty, Gwinnett Place Ford, Andersen, Tate, Mahaffey & McGarity, PC, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Waffle House, RICOH, Gwinnett Health System and Amerigroup.

The Gwinnett Business Journal is sponsoring our "Dollar Makes a Difference Campaign" this year. The Dollar Makes a Difference Campaign was launched in 2004 as a way to purchase the supplies needed to complete the Great Days of Service Projects. Many of the local agencies cannot afford to purchase the supplies, which is why many of their needs are never met. We decided that if every volunteer gave just $1, then we would never have to worry about projects not getting completed because of a lack of supplies. If you or your business, school, or civic club would like to participate in the Dollar Makes a Difference Campaign this year, please contact Kelly Greer at Kelly@gwinnettmagazine.com.

Some of our sponsors are finding new ways to partner with us. For example, Schwan's has found a unique way to participate in the Dollar Makes a Difference Campaign. For every order placed using the Schwan's link on our Great Days of Service Web site and delivered and paid for during the period of Aug. 15 through Oct. 15, Schwan's will make a $1 donation toward the Dollar Makes a Difference program. Help us make a difference. Join in and place an order today.

As always, Great Days will start at 7:30 a.m. Oct. 28 at Discover Mills in the food court with our Kick Off Breakfast celebration. The public is invited, and each volunteer team and agency is asked to have at least one member at the breakfast to get instructions and pick up your teams T-shirts.

I also want to take a minute to thank an incredible steering committee and staff for the many hours of planning, vision, and hard work that gets little recognition but is crucial to the success of this year's Great Days of Service. So, we offer a special thank you to our co-chairs Janet Schwalbe with Gwinnett Medical Center and Julia Hall with Peoples Bank and Trust. We also would like to thank Tonya Corbin, Susanne Thomas, Sara Nerenbaum, Mary Ellen Gatewood, Joslyn Bacalis, Paige Havens, Bill Roa, Celia Moore, Danielle Weiden, Dionitia Cornell, George Hamilton, Ginger Powell, Jayne Madigan, Christine Moorhead, Jamie Jones, Julianne Thompson, Karen Fine, Karen Wilson and Kelly Greer. A very special thanks goes to our newlywed, Associate Director Rachael Shaikun Holder. Rachael is our staff member who keeps everything organized. For more info on this year's event, log onto our Web site at www.gwinnettcoalition.org and choose the Gwinnett Great Days of Service icon on the right side of our home page.

Need help or know someone who does? The Gwinnett Helpline directs callers to the appropriate nonprofit agency. Call 770-995-3339.