Lake Gaston spirit of volunteering ramps up

Many volunteer organizations around Lake Gaston are temporarily shuttered. The greatest help in this moment is typically social distancing, or self-isolation if you are symptomatic. Lake Gaston Lions is no exception. We are shut down and have canceled our April blood drive. However, the Red Cross has rolled out enhanced protocols and critical blood drives are still occurring around our area. The Lions ask for support of upcoming blood drives either at the Halifax County Agricultural Center on April 2, or at First Christian Church in Roanoke Rapids on April 7. Visit or call 1-800-733-2767.

Some things, like these blood drives, still need to be done despite the pandemic. Back in late November, William Garner of Garysburg was in a serious car accident and suffered a broken and dislocated hip. After two months in the hospital, the bone was partially healed, but the dislocation could not be corrected. Doctors were at a loss and could only recommend additional recovery to completely heal the break before hip replacement surgery could be performed. Meanwhile, his wife, Lydia, lost her new job because of the time she now needed to spend caring for her husband. Whether or not Garner will even get his scheduled surgery in early May is uncertain. Without question, Garner will be wheelchair-bound for many months to come. Post-surgery and following therapy, his mobility will still be greatly limited. The three steps out his side door are just insurmountable.

Enter Helpful Hands and Hearts, a non-denominational volunteer organization serving older adults around the Lake Gaston area. Like the Lions, HHH services are officially shuttered. However, last week, a half-dozen HHH volunteers built a 16-foot access ramp from Garner’s door to his driveway. Among the many things HHH does, is building access ramps at no-cost for those in need. HHH typically builds one or two of these ramps within our area each month. This effort, and other HHH services like transportation, are temporarily shut down. With his pending surgery and doctor visits, HHH determined that undertaking this ramp build now was necessary despite the Pandemic.

The longer Garner delays his surgery, the greater his health risks become. HHH practiced social distancing by strictly limiting the number of workers, working outdoors, maintaining six feet of personal space, wearing gloves, minimizing interactions with the Garners’, and disinfecting surfaces particularly the door when done.

Governor Cooper’s “Stay at Home” order exempts charitable organizations “...when providing food, shelter, social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals, individuals who need assistance as a result of this emergency, and people with disabilities.” As charities all across our land adjust to find that right balance between helping, but not adding to the COVID-19 problem, the Lake Gaston community is thankful to organizations like Helpful Hands Hearts.

For more information about Helpful Hands and Hearts call 252-586-3000 or visit their website at