Ever wonder how an event like the Negaunee Invitational Tournament is staged, given the high costs for everything these days? The same way the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Championship is put on each February or the Noquemanon Ski Marathon the previous month: volunteers.
Certainly there are some paid staff that have an involvement in these kinds of events - the many summer festivals held locally come to mind as additional examples - but at the end of the day, without legions of volunteers selling concessions, working with dog teams, setting up and tearing down tents and whatnot, these kinds of big ticket events just wouldn't happen.
A front page story in Sunday's Mining Journal written by Journal Sports Writer Steve Brownlee detailed the duties of some of the volunteers at the NIT, which includes more than 100 teams in multiple divisions. Some of the volunteers at the NIT have been giving their time and energy for many years.
But it isn't just fun events that attract volunteers. This weekend, hundreds of volunteers spent hours and hours filling thousands of sandbags at several points downstate near rivers that were flooding, or nearly flooding. In the Upper Peninsula, volunteers have done similar work in the past and would certainly do so again if called upon.
Senior citizens are especially active in the volunteer community, visiting area nursing homes to lend staff a helping hand. Senior volunteers can be found in all kinds of places, especially during the warm-weather months, supporting the tourism industry. And young people also get into the act, working through Northern Michigan University, and other entities to assist seniors and others in need with many kinds of activities.
There are many different kinds of volunteers we haven't mentioned here. This writing isn't intended to be an eshaustive list of who's doing what locally. It is, however, intended to underscore the importance of volunteers to our community, our state, our country. We salute them all.