Jen Silmser understands the importance of volunteering.

“The community is what the individual puts into it,” the Carolina Forest Library’s branch librarian said.

Last week, hundreds of individuals expressed an interest in investing in the community during the first annual volunteer fair at the library. The Jan. 16 event packed the Carolina Forest branch.

“Libraries are overlooked as a book warehouse, but we are really a community hub,” Silmser said.

Originally scheduled for September, the fair was pushed back because of Hurricane Florence. But the rescheduling seemed to have no effect on the level of participation.

There were 27 groups at the fair, ranging from large organizations such as the American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity to lesser known groups like The Long Bay Threshold Singers, which performs for hospice patients, those recovering from an illness or folks who are just lonely.

Silmser described the fair as “a place where groups can bring their positive messages.”

“It is really easy for someone to complain on social media,” she said. “But going out and getting involved in the community is difficult.”

The groups at the library had different needs.

The L.W. Paul Living History Farm sought people willing to get their hands dirty on the farm or perhaps help record oral histories of farm life in Horry County.

The American Cancer Society looked for volunteers who could drive cancer patients to doctor visits.

“Volunteering is a way to give back,” said Becky Eaddy with the American Cancer Society.

Barb Eisenhardt of the Horry County Democratic Party agreed.

“Volunteering gives people a sense of community and a sense of belonging,” she said.

“It is critical because most people around here have recently moved from another area.”


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