Today many people will be out on the lake, having get-togethers with friends, eating mounds of food, and celebrating the ever popular Labor Day. Although created and first celebrated in New York City in 1882, the holiday was first recognized by the government in 1885. Per the U.S. Department of Labor, it is described as “a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” Since 1885, every year on the first Monday of September, everyone celebrates those who have worked hard, supported the country’s economic growth and aided in progression. In essence, Labor Day allows us to give ourselves and everyone else working a pat on the back.

While everyone’s job is important in some form or fashion, today, Labor Day of 2014, I want to give a pat on the back to those who work endlessly in jobs who provide no pay, generally offer extended hours, and are rarely recognized. Those people would be the volunteers of the world.

As the founder of a charity, there is a overwhelming gratitude that is impossible to relay when someone offers their time and heart to your organization. You see, nothing falls on convenience and nothing is glamorous. Exhaustion ensues, sweat pours, and there are mundane moments when you think “I’d rather be….” Yet, despite, volunteers feel it in their heart to contribute their time and energy to awareness, education, and kindness. They lose their weekends to events and spend their evenings preparing. In a rescue’s case, foster homes devote every day to parenting to an animal that in most cases never knew true love, or they are reviving the heart of one that lost and gave up on the joy of having a pet parent. While they don’t recognize it as work, daily, these foster homes volunteer. All day and all night. 24/7.

Other volunteers set up chairs and tables, pass out fliers, talk to people about the organization or hunt down donated items for fundraisers. They beg their friends and strangers for funds, they get dirty and stinky, they earn a lovely sunburn badge on hot days, drain their gas tanks, and become enemies with exhaustion by the time the event has passed. They are vivacious yet humble; they are passionate and determined. They are full of heart and love drips from their souls.

Volunteers are devoted to their cause, be it animals, children, disease or disaster. Whatever the charity, they want to be in the front line, actively fighting.

While there is a well deserved and under recognized National Volunteer Week in April, what I want to point out is that these people work hard and ask for nothing in return. They do it not for recognition, not for money, but only out of the goodness of their hearts because they want someone else to reap the benefits.

Volunteering is their labor of love.

Volunteers must be remembered on Labor Day because they, too, commit to the growth, the health, and the prosperity of our communities and our country.

So on this Labor Day, if you know of someone who devotes their personal time to help others in need, give them a hug or a pat on the back and a heartfelt thank you. Then buy them chocolate because if there’s anyone in the world that deserves chocolate, it’s volunteers.

To anyone who has ever volunteered for k9.5 Rescue, whether it was only once or for an extended duration…thank you. Never, ever will you know the appreciation for the good things you’ve done.

May you all have a safe and joyful Labor Day.

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