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The Volunteers on Vacation program is a chance for area students on summer break to give the Park Hills Senior Center meal delivery volunteers some needed time off, all the while learning the value of giving to others.

The program is operated by center’s director, Holly Buxton, and has been in place for more than 10 years.

When the program first began the Senior Center was recognized with an Innovative Ideas Award from Harrah’s Entertainment.    

Throughout the year volunteers from the Federated Brotherhood of Meal Bringers have work with the Senior Center to deliver meals to the area's elderly citizens.

“My regular volunteers deliver weekly in the rain, freezing cold, and the heat of the summer,” said Buxton. “This [program] is really a blessing to them.”  

Students of all ages can choose to devote one or two hours a week during their summer vacation to deliver meals on the routes that are normally tended to by the regular volunteers.

As Buxton explained, “The students, along with their parents or guardians, will come in and do the route for them.” She went on to explain that the center has seven routes and the regular drivers will usually come in once per week to deliver meals on a given route. “The students can choose to do a route just once, or they could do the whole summer delivering meals one day a week."

The deliveries begin in the morning around 10 a.m. and most of the routes take between an hour and an hour-and-a-half.

At the end of the summer, the staff at the senior center will throw a big thank you party for the student volunteers, which is generally held at Bonne Terre Family Fun Center.

“The kids have lots of fun at the party but they also have lots of fun delivering,” said Buxton. She explained that most of the students who participate return to do it again each summer. One student volunteer has been delivering every summer for 10 years.

She went on to say that once they start doing it, they realize how fulfilling it is. “They’re helping someone out but thy’re having fun doing it.”

“The kid’s come back from the routes and they’re all excited. I love it because most of the kids will say they don’t do it for the party, they do it because it makes them feel good,” she said.

Students can get started volunteering whenever their school lets outs for the summer. Students attending summer school can start as soon as their summer session is over.

Parents or guardians of children wishing to participate can contact Holly Buxton at 573-431-4974.

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Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3628, or at bradford@dailyjournalonline.com.

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