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Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay event to wrap up National Volunteer Week

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April 27, 2013 marks the end of National Volunteer Week. And here's something that might surprise you. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 64.5 million people volunteered in the United States at least once between September of 2011 and September 2012.

The volunteer rate declined by 0.3 percentage point to 26.5% for the year ending in September 2012. The decline followed an increase of one-half of a percentage point in 2011.

But the United Way Handson Suncoast boasts a huge number of volunteers in our area, more than 7,560, and they are proud of what they do.
 
One of those volunteers is Richard Pearson. "I wanted to be able to give back to the community," Pearson said.
 
Richard Pearson has amassed an amazing number of volunteer hours for the United Way in the past year, 279.
 
This year, he was awarded the Silver Presidential Award for volunteering from the United Way.
He works on a number of projects, including Habitat for Humanity, Lowry Park Zoo, Ronald McDonald House and the Salvation Army to name a few.
 
And his volunteer work isn't limited to local projects. He recently went to Guatemala to build houses through Habitat for Humanity.
 
"What we build here and what we build there, two totally different things.. but the appreciation, it's the same," Pearson said.
 
Pearson, who has been volunteering for two years now, since retiring from the military said it's important to still find time to give to others.
 
And he's not alone.  

Jamel Jackson, 14, began volunteering just a few months ago through a service organization he's part of called the Sigma Beta Club, the youth auxiliary group for Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity.
 
The Jefferson High School freshman donates his time at Lowry Park Zoo on weekends.
"I work there in various tasks for them," Jackson said. "Just helping out people."

Philip Harris, the director of volunteer services and public policy, said many people don't realize volunteering is something everyone can do. He says everyone can use things they enjoy doing and give their time in one way or another.
 
Some of those areas include reading to children, income tax preparation and safety net services. Harris encourages everyone to give volunteering a try and says the agency is very thankful for those who do.
 
"We want these individual volunteers to understand that we truly appreciate them from the United Way. Our partner agencies are very appreciative of their work and what they've done for us," Harris said.

This weekend there is another opportunity to give back for Tampa Bay area residents.
 
Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay, in partnership with United Way HandsOn Suncoast, will be in Campbell Park April 27th to help a number of families improve their homes during National Volunteer Week 2013.
 
Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay and United Way HandsOn Suncoast will work together to preserve affordable home ownership and reduce substandard housing in the Campbell Park
neighborhood through working partnerships with corporations, Campbell Park Elementary School and the City of St. Petersburg. 
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