By Danielle Church
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS - For local residents who like giving back through community service, some city departments have an array of volunteer opportunities and projects waiting.
On Wednesday, the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation Department will host its first volunteer call meeting.
"Everyone should learn how to help out their community," said Heather Cox, activities center coordinator. "It's the art of giving."
The volunteer gathering is part of the city's Reaching New Heights program that strives to get residents involved in enhancing their community.
At the meeting, people will hear about the parks department's various community projects in October and later in the year. For example, the "Make a Difference Day" coat drive is designed to help Harker Heights students who are homeless or poor. A community litter pick-up and a canned food drive also are planned.
"Throughout the year, we always have people help," Cox said, referring to a database she uses to keep track of volunteers. And, the upcoming meeting is an opportunity to expand the pool.
While the parks department doesn't have an age or residency requirement, potential volunteers must complete a team-member packet and undergo a background check. Cox said children, 14 and younger, are required to have parental supervision while volunteering.
During Wednesday's meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. at the Activities Center, people will not only have an opportunity to sign up to volunteer for community events, they also will be able to offer ideas for city projects.
The Rev. Tim Worden, pastor at Disciples Church in Harker Heights, said the church will have a community service coordinator at the meeting. He said church members always are searching for new ways to serve the community and want to expand their volunteer efforts.
"We knew that the core thing is going to be about serving in our community," Worden said. "To show people love in our community and to make it a better place."
But the parks department isn't the only place looking for community volunteers. The city library also offers ways to serve through various events and day-to-day opportunities.
Library Clerk Rose Ramon said there are two types of volunteers - those who are required to give the hours for educational requirements and those who choose to work on projects because of a personal desire to serve their community.
At the library, many volunteer efforts are divided by age groups. For example, children, ages 12 and younger, often help with kids' programs, while teens participate in one or more volunteer committees. Adult volunteers, Ramon said are needed for book sales, other library events and to help at the front counter.
Potential library volunteers must meet the same requirements as those who give their time with the city's parks department.
And, for people who are interested in animals and the police, the Harker Heights Police Department and Pet Adoption Center welcome volunteers, too.
Harker Heights resident Sue Wilson said she began volunteering at the adoption center the day it opened. "I am a complete animal lover," she said. "In fact, I'm sitting here right now in a wheelchair (after having back surgery) taking care of the cats."
Wilson said she believes humans should take time to properly care for animals and give them as much love and attention as possible.
In the near future, Wilson said she's planning to start a campaign to encourage more people to volunteer at the adoption center to help with cleaning and walking the animals.
At the police department, Lt. Loretta Fox said potential volunteers must attend a citizen police academy.
But unlike other city departments, potential volunteers at both the adoption center and police department must meet stricter requirements. "With us, we have some stipulations," Fox said. "You have to be 18 or older, and you have to be a resident or work in the city."
Contact Danielle Church at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to volunteer in Harker Heights? Here's how:
Parks and Recreation Department, call (254) 953-5493, or visit the Activities Center, 400 Indian Trail.
Library, call (254) 953-5491 or visit Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 400 Indian Trail.
Pet Adoption Center, call (254) 953-5472 or visit at 403 Indian Trail, on the corner of Clore Road.
Police department, call (254) 953-5400 or visit at 402 Indian Trail.