Holiday season brings need for volunteers, donations

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Editor’s Note: This is a part of a series of stories highlighting non-profit agencies that need help or donations during the holiday season.

NATCHEZ — Ray Brown spends his days among children, and in his free time, he wants to protect and help them.

Brown is head of security for Natchez-Adams School District, but he volunteers with Catholic Charities’ Guardian Sexual Assault Crisis Center. He talks to school children about bullying and sexual assault, what those topics mean and how to address them.

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Brown is also on call to serve as a victim’s advocate, helping victims through potentially difficult medical treatment and law enforcement procedures.

“Anything they call me for, at the hospital, at home or law enforcement, I can give advice,” he said. “I can also tell people where they can get more help from the resources available.”

The majority of sexual assaults involve children, Guardian Center Director Sandra Davis said.

That’s more motivation for Brown to get involved, he said. With daughters of his own, his volunteer sessions sometimes hit close to home.

“I hope someone will do the same for my children (if they need it), do what I did,” he said.

The thanks and gratitude Brown gets for his efforts make volunteering worthwhile, he said.

“It’s about helping someone else,” he said. “You might just get someone saying thanks, or they might not say anything, just the simile on their face.”

The Guardian Center is just one of the agencies under the umbrella of Catholic Charities.

The organization also provides emergency assistance, helping to supplement food, shelter, clothing and utilities for families in need.

People come to Catholic Charities for help paying rent, for counseling, prevention education and even burial expenses.

Donations and volunteers are particularly important during the holiday season, Catholic Charities Director Martha Mitternight said.

“Especially this time of year, when we have some very cold days and people need to have their gas stay on, we’ll help pay utility bills,” Mitternight said. “We will have several hundred families who will end up coming to this office that week before Christmas.”