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Website connecting volunteers with causes

The Park Rapids Volunteer Network has attracted more than 100 volunteers seeking opportunities to lend a helping hand.

The website aims to connect do-gooders with area organizations that need their help.

A small task force from ACTION Park Rapids created the customized web page (https://volunteerparkrapids.galaxydigital.com), which went live in May 2018.

Currently, there are 109 volunteers registered on the site, reported task force member Kim Donahue at ACTION Park Rapids meeting on Nov. 1.

There are 52 volunteering opportunities, three site sponsors and 25 organizations utilizing the Park Rapids Volunteer Network, according to Donahue.

Each volunteer creates a personalized profile page, identifying his or her interests, skills and causes. They can search and respond to volunteer opportunities in Hubbard County. By becoming a "fan" of a favorite organization, they can receive notifications and reminders of upcoming events.

The Park Rapids Volunteer Network is open to all area organizations for an annual fee of $30.

Organizations describe their cause or special event, including shifts, age requirements, registration deadlines, skills or number of volunteers needed. The website allows organizations to message volunteers and export a list of responses.

The website also keeps track of volunteer hours. For example, Donahue said volunteers for the Northern Light Opera Company have accumulated 974 hours and 2,081 travel miles.

"These statistics are vital when applying for grants and financial support as they reflect an in-kind portion of donations that a lot of grant foundations are looking for," she said.

Donahue noted that one of the newest organizations to join the network is the Park Rapids School District.

"They are encouraging their students to register and find needs and opportunities on the site," she said. "So now is the time to get your needs and opportunities out there."

Laurie Conzemius and Travis Guida are spearheading the effort for more student volunteerism.

As Community Career Collaboration Coordinator within the school district, Guida said his job is "to connect students with resources in the community, but I'm also seeking volunteers to join classrooms to share their expertise. A win-win!"

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