*Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled the last name of the winner. Sharon Laser was named the Hannibal Regional Auxiliary Volunteer of the Year. This story has been edited to correctly identify Laser. The Courier-Post apologizes for the error.
Sharon Laser grew up in a family that valued volunteerism. Perhaps that explains why she's volunteered more than 4,000 hours to the Hannibal Regional Auxiliary and thus received the distinction of Volunteer of the Year at the Auxiliary's annual service awards luncheon on Monday, April 24.
Laser said she was in "total shock" to receive the award, one of the most prestigious honors bestowed at the Auxiliary's annual luncheon.
Laser has volunteered since 2002 she estimated, spending the majority of her time in the Sewing and Puppet Committee, crafting puppets for children undergoing medical care.
"I had a friend who was volunteering at the (James E. Cary) Cancer Center at the time and she invited me to go," she explained. "The rest is history."
Laser described sewing as her passion, one that has served to uplift the spirits of countless children through the Puppet Program.
"I was brought up by a mother who did a lot of volunteering and it's just always something that's been a part of me," Laser said. "I feel you have to give back to your community."
Laser's family from Arizona made the trip to Hannibal to celebrate her accomplishment. Laser was overcome when her daughter walked out into the dining room at the Hannibal Country Club to congratulate her mother.
Laser will soon relocate back to Arizona, where she said she plans to continue to donate her time and efforts to volunteerism.
"Sharon is a caring, unselfish, hardworking volunteer who is willing to go to the highest limits to serve not only Hannibal Regional, but other organizations," one of her nominators said. "she is a delight to work with as a volunteer and truly cares about everyone she volunteers with."
Laser was one of several people receiving honors at the luncheon.
Auxiliary volunteer coordinator Alicia Rollins welcomed the group, praising their dedication and hard work.
"It truly is the small day to day interactions that make our organization great," she said, noting that the Auxiliary was awarded named the Missouri Auxiliary of the Year.
Other presentations during the luncheon included Honorary Memberships which were given to Katherine Bier, Becky Wilt, Julia Lafuse, Russell Howell, Neleta Yount and Kay Adams. Special recognitions were presented to Carol Wilhoit, Donna Buckwalter, Karen Sutor, Kim Ahrens, Gerry Lehenbauer and Nancy Cruse.
Kenneth Ayers and Debra Johnson received the Outstanding New Member awards, while Outstanding Contribution to a New Program was given to Mary Dunaway for her work with the pet therapy program.
Bette Durbin received the President's Call to Service Award. Durbin has volunteered for more than 10 years and has donated 6,500 hours of her time.
For more information on becoming a Hannibal Regional Auxiliary volunteer, call 573-248-5272.
Reach editor Eric Dundon at firstname.lastname@example.org