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Volunteer Nation series seeks to showcase, inspire

Syd Mandelbaum, founder of Rock and Wrap it

Syd Mandelbaum, founder of Rock and Wrap it Up!, gets ready to roll with food for shelters and soup kitchens. Unused food is collected from concerts, events and sports venues to benefit those in need. (Feb. 5, 2013) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Volunteers are one of the lifelines of a community. They share what they have -- skills, money, food, clothes, compassion -- with those who lack it. Everyone involved is better for it, and if we're lucky, the sparks of generosity will inspire a wellspring of volunteerism.

Last January, Newsday launched a series to do just that. Each month, a Volunteer Nation installment featured a Long Island nonprofit seeking to do the most good for fellow Long Islanders, from children to animals, the disabled to the senior population. As the series progressed, it tracked the efforts of the Hempstead-based Long Island Volunteer Center to sign up 153,000 volunteers by Aug. 31 of this year.

Over the past year the series expanded to include local companies with a strong volunteer ethic, and the volunteer center registered more than 100,000 new volunteers.

To connect Long Islanders with the myriad volunteer opportunities available locally and to shine a light on the area's big-hearted private and corporate citizens, the series is continuing in 2014. The first installment will run later this month.

If you know of a local nonprofit or company that should be profiled, send an email to, with Volunteer Nation in the subject line, a few details about the group and contact information for the nonprofit.

To learn more about the groups featured in LI Life in 2013, see the covers reprinted here and go to And keep volunteering.

-- Tracy M. Brown, LI Life editor

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