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A great help: More than 300 volunteer projects planned for two days

Photo by Kristen Ralph

Photo by Kristen Ralph

NORCROSS -- Norama Cisco planted flowers Friday morning in front of the home of a family she had never met.

Each of the residences where Cisco worked -- along with other Home Depot employees from various local stores -- belonged to strangers.

For the Loganville resident, helping people, whether she knows them personally or not, is a passion. One for which Cisco doesn't seek credit or recognition, but simply the knowledge she has helped someone.

"It's good to show that we can make a difference in the community, to give back and to help," she said. "As long as I can help somebody and make a difference I know my living is not in vain."

That desire to make a difference was shared Friday by volunteers who turned out to complete more than 100 projects on the first of two days of Gwinnett's Great Days of Service.

Now in its 11th year, Great Days is a community-wide effort in which volunteers work together to complete various projects for local nonprofit organizations, anything from installing shelves in an office and painting walls to paving parking lots and staffing community events.

While the majority of the more than 300 total projects are scheduled to take place today, the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services, which coordinates the annual large-scale volunteer effort, was already seeing incredible results Friday afternoon. The Duluth cooperative ministry Hands of Christ had already received almost 10,000 items -- nonperishable food, personal hygiene and paper products -- through a supplies drive conducted at each of the schools in the Gwinnett County School System. And those items came from just one cluster of the 18 in Gwinnett County. Two other cooperatives in Lilburn and Snellville reported similar numbers.

"We are really excited," Nicole Love, associate director of the coalition, said after the first day of Gwinnett Great Days of Service. "We're rocking and rolling. The volunteers are out there and getting their hands dirty in the projects and having fun."

While great work has been done throughout the county, and more great work will be done today, the need this year surpassed the means for the coalition to facilitate every project that was submitted for consideration, even after doubling the number of projects from last year. This means it's not too late for Gwinnett residents to volunteer.

"We will still have projects after Great Days of Service," Love said.

For more information on volunteer opportunities in the Gwinnett community, contact the Gwinnett Coalition by calling 770-995-3339 or visit www.gwinnettcoalition.org.