The Cape Coral Police Department recognized members of its volunteer unit this week.
Volunteer of the Year was Vincent Spanti, who, despite two brain surgeries, managed to donate more than 900 hours in assistance to the CCPD road patrol unit.
All told, total hours donated by volunteers in 2010 was valued at an estimated $752,176, a 30 percent increase over 2009.
Those who choose to donate their time to the police department are not alone - the Cape is full of quiet heroes who generate few headlines, who receive little in the way of public recognition save, perhaps a lunch and a certificate, but who make a substantive impact.
Personal afflictions, be they disability or age, do little to slow these givers down.
Other cases in point?
Bob Stewart continues to brave the cold to collect funds for the Salvation Army each holiday season. The bell ringer extraordinaire is 89.
Robert Perry, 90, celebrated his birthday recently by donating blood through an hours-long process that extracts platelets.
Belle Sorokin spends a few hours each Wednesday volunteering with Lee Memorial Health System's SHARE Club. At 97, she's Cape Coral Hospital's oldest volunteer.
These individuals are far from alone and their efforts are far flung, bettering our lives in innumerable ways.
Volunteers plant trees along medians and pick up trash along rights of way; they coach our kids and mentor those needing an extra boost; lend a hand at hospitals and nursing homes; and help mitigate costs for various public programs, like police departments and schools, saving taxpayers thousands of dollars.
They buy books and much-needed equipment for libraries and hospitals; fund programs and scholarships to benefit children from kindergarten through college; and provide support and comfort for those with most any illness or issue from Alzeimer's to stroke support.
Volunteers make virtually all Cape Coral events possible, from January's popular Festival of the Arts, to December's Festival of Lights, to almost everything scheduled in between.
And they do it for nothing, save self-satisfaction and a true desire to make a difference.
We thank all of these quiet heroes.
We also urge more community involvement.
It's easy to point out problems, enumerate life's woes, and complain about all that's wrong in the Cape.
It's harder to make a difference, especially with the sweat of one's brow and the sacrifice of what precious little personal time there is left at the end of the week.
- Breeze editorial