Approximately 150 community residents signed up to help out during a four-hour Arctic Winter Games volunteer rally Saturday at Great Bear Ford in Soldotna.
The purpose of the rally was to find new volunteers and update those already signed up to give their time at the Arctic Winter Games planned for March on the Kenai Peninsula, according to Kathy Moore, Games volunteer manager.
Moore said the rallies, one held in October at Kenai Chrysler and Saturday's event, made headway toward the total number needed.
"What other single day have you ever gotten that many volunteers at one time?" she asked. "That is a great thing for our community."
The rally helped bring in residents who were able to speak with representative from nine different divisions, including sports, transportation, medical, security and care and comfort, among others.
"It worked out really good where you could just go around the room and talk to somebody and figure out 'maybe I would be more interested in this,'" she said, adding that many volunteers came and changed their original form after talking to other divisions or added another division to their list.
"I was really pleased," Moore said. "There was one point at (the rally) where the room was so crowded that the show room was hard to even walk through."
Tim Dillon, general manager of the Games, agreed.
"We were able to catch that group that we may not have been able to catch up with," Dillon said. "It gave us an opportunity not only to connect with new people, but some of the people that had signed up months ago that wanted to get updates on different things."
Moore said the two rallies brought in almost 400 new volunteers, bringing the total to 1,200.
"That says a lot about our community," she said.
Moore said the committee is looking for a total of 2,700 volunteers to help the Games run smoothly.
"I feel confident that we are going to get what we need to put the Games on," she said. "It would be great, in a perfect world, to have 2,700 volunteers, but if we don't, I know that we will still accomplish what we are setting out to do, which is the care and comfort of the athletes and participants."
Additional rallies are slated for December, getting all interested on board before January so the proper security checks can be made.
"Naturally, anyone who is going to be working with youth we do a background check on," she said.
Another rally, to be held just weeks prior to the Games, will be for training, orientation and for volunteers to receive their uniforms.
For their time, volunteers will receive a uniform consisting of a jacket, reversible vest, gloves and a mock-turtleneck shirt all with the AWG logo embroidered on it. They also will receive free admission to the venue they volunteered for.
Moore said the effects of volunteering are a lasting gift.
"The community pride and the sense of volunteering is really a huge legacy for the Arctic Winter Games," she said.
High school students also are urged to get involved, Moore said, noting that volunteering can benefit other areas of students' education.
"They can use it toward their community service hours for graduation and it is also just a great community service project just for the volunteering aspect," she said.
Those who help during the Games can choose from 20 different sporting events, various cultural events and even food service.
"It sounds so silly to say, but there really is something for everyone," she said.
Transportation is another area where volunteers are needed.
"Besides the drivers, we need people in the parking lots directing traffic," she said.
Those who cannot help during the initial week of the Games can still find a place to be useful.
"If someone can't help out during Games week, there are things to do beforehand," she said, including putting together and taking down approximately 1,000 bunk beds at various schools used as athlete villages.
While planning for the Games has been in the works for more than two years, Moore said she has been amazed during the process at what goes on to plan such an event.
"The details that go into putting on an event like this are just phenomenal," she said.
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.