Helping others can become contagious.
At Julie's House, volunteers open their arms every day to battered and homeless women and their children.
The nonprofit organization receives help of its own. A Sunday school class from Warren Baptist Church lends a hand to help Julie's House aid women in times of crisis.
"I really couldn't run the store and have this organization without my volunteers," said Julie's House Executive Director Pat Bourke. "They come in and do whatever needs to be done."
The Sunday school class, known at Warren Baptist as the Cook/Malzer/Hale small group, chose Julie's House as the organization they wanted to assist as a church mission project.
"It was something that women and men could both do," said Melissa Widener, a member of the class. "There's always something here for us to do."
For the past year, about 10 people from the class have spent a Saturday each month volunteering at the Julie's House thrift store, Making Ends Meet Bargain Center in La Petite Plaza in Martinez.
The center opened in November 2008 to house donations that poured in for the Columbia County shelter. The store quickly outgrew its 900-square-foot storefront in the plaza and now occupies 5,800 square feet and most of the shopping center.
Volunteers sort through donated items and organize merchandise in the store.
"I think we've all started donating here," said church volunteer Christy Warren.
Their work doesn't stop there. Men from the church group devote time doing yard work at the shelter and maintaining the 10-room residence.
Group members recently raised funds to enclose the playground with a privacy fence to give clients at the shelter a sense of safety.
During the holidays, Bourke said, a volunteer from the church also cooked and brought a Christmas meal to the shelter.
"They served it, and they were experiencing the joy of giving to others," she said.
Bourke noted that the volunteers take time away from their busy schedules and families to do for others.
"Families, especially with school-age children, your time is so valuable," she said. "They have been so good to give me their Saturdays."
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