By Anne Gibson

Volunteerism, as defined by The Free Dictionary is “the principle of donating time and energy for the benefit of other people in the community as a social responsibility rather than for financial reward.” The greater Vail area has a wealth of volunteers practicing volunteerism.

Randy Hoffman stands in Turtleville the desert habitat where four Desert Tortious reside. Randy cares for the visitors as one of his many volunteer duties at Ocotillo Ridge
Elementary School in the Vail School District.

Volunteers are so important and valued in the Vail School District that the district is one of the few school districts that employs a part-time volunteer coordinator for each of its schools. Randy Hoffman, a retired Submarine Officer and Raytheon Engineer, is one of those at Ocotillo Ridge Elementary School (ORE). For six years he is been known as Mr. Randy, or “The Milk Guy,” in the lunch room. His volunteer work includes a variety of chores: caring for and feeding the four turtles in Turtleville (their outdoor enclosure), reading in one-on-one and small group activities with students through the school’s Reading Heroes and Bookworms, and helping with annual functions such as STEM Showcase, Science Fair, and Spelling Bee. He teaches fifth graders how to raise, lower and fold the American and Arizona flags, and serves as a crossing guard. And, because he and his wife cruise a lot, he teaches fourth and fifth grade students what he calls short lessons on how ships cross the ocean with time zone changes, navigation, and great-circle routes.

Randy Hoffman volunteers because, “My feeling is the more I can do to make life easier for the teachers, the more time they have to teach the students. I’ve worked for two wonderful principals, who have not only assigned me challenging tasks, but also given me a lot of freedom to help out where I see I’m needed. ORE is an A+ school, and a great place to volunteer”.

Nancy Gray lives in Del Webb at Rancho Del Lago, a 606-home, 55-and-over retirement community, where she is known as a “Volunteer Supreme.” For six-years she has helped to plan and coordinate the neighborhood community garage sales, arts and craft festivals, social activities, and health fitness events in the Del Webb neighborhood, some of which are opened up the greater Vail area community. She has served as President of the DWRDL Pickleball Club and as Vail’s United States American Pickleball Association Ambassador. She has volunteered with the annual parade and event sponsored by the Vail Preservation Society. As a member of the Pima Trails Association, she has supported their goal to help preserve equestrian and hiking trails throughout the county and access to them. To show her versatility, she can also be seen showing off her prize Corvette at car shows.

Nancy Gray volunteers because, “I want to help the Del Webb neighborhood and the Vail community in general maintain their integrity as a giving, sharing, and interactive place to live: an area where neighbors look out for one another and enhance each other’s’ quality of life. It is so gratifying when planning an event that so many people are willing to help make it a success. I am thankful to be a member of such a generous community and to live in a beautiful area”.

Ev Campbell serves on the Board of Directors of the Resources Vail Area ReSources, which through its Food Bank provides emergency food to families, meals for the home-bound, along with supplemental weekend nutrition “backpacks” for Vail students, as well as other short-term service initiatives. Financially this service is made possible through food donations, monetary donations, and proceeds from the Vail Depot Thrift Store. Ev has been seen sorting and distributing food at the Food Bank for two years, and the sorting, pricing, and displaying of donations for four years at the Depot Thrift Store. As a military wife for 21 years, Ev, with 14 other ladies, have shipped 2,162 Troop Care Boxes and 145,000 greeting cards to military troops to mail home. For ten and a half years at her church, she has volunteered to serve on committees and hands-on events, such as the lead on the rummage sale.

“Besides giving back to the community, volunteering is a great opportunity for meeting other like-minded individuals. I enjoy talking to customers at the thrift store,” said Ev Campbell.

The opportunities are there and you should be there too.

Whittley “Anne” Gibson is a third generation Tucsonan and alumni of the University of Arizona. She has been an active community member in the greater Vail area since the late 1970s.

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Anne Gibson