The day before Thanksgiving, Mary Dazey was answering phones at Tiffin Seneca United Way. Thanksgiving Day, she helped with the free dinner at Tiffin Nazarene Church. Her calendar already is marked with the Christmas party at the Ecumenical Sharing Kitchen and the Community Christmas Dinner, sponsored by NOAH, at Camden Falls.
"If somebody calls me, I most generally agree to do something," Dazey said. "When my parents were living, they set an example. I have a sister, too, who does volunteering. I think we got it from our parents."
For her volunteer contributions, Dazey has been chosen as grand marshal for the 2012 Christmas parade Saturday.
PHOTO BY MARYANN KROMER
Mary Dazey assists a caller last week at the United Way office.
A widow and mother of three adult children, Dazey grew up south of Tiffin and graduated from McCutchenville High School. She has lived in other communities, but is back in Seneca County.
Most recently, Dazey worked as assistant food service director and catering manager for Aramark at Heidelberg University. She still works there one day a week. Besides working in the United Way office, she has helped with the annual Day of Caring.
Relay for Life is another important effort for Dazey. Earlier this year, she received a Red Cross Everyday Heroes Award in the seniors category, and she thought that was enough recognition for one year. The parade marshal invitation was a surprise.
Kiwanis Club's Christmas parade is set for 11 a.m. Saturday during Victorian Christmas Weekend. Beginning at St. Joseph Church, the parade moves north on Washington Street, turns west and disbands at the Knights of Columbus on Perry Street.
Letter carriers are to walk in the parade and pick up letters to Santa from children along the parade route.
"When they called me, I said, 'There's other people in town that should be honored,' but they told me my name had come up four or five times," Dazey said.
This is Dazey's fourth year in the Lions Club. Their activities include preparing a barbecue for St. Francis staff and campus residents; operating a booth at Tiffin-Seneca Heritage Festival; conducting White Cane Days for sight; selling brooms door-to-door and at farmers' markets and flea markets; tending the summer flowers in planters in downtown Tiffin; and maintaining Lions' Court on Market Street.
The Lions are known for cooking pancake-and-sausage breakfasts to raise money for club projects. They always set up at the Relay for Life. In October, the Lions Club and Kiwanis Club teamed to serve a breakfast at the fairgrounds.
"People at the breakfasts should stop by and see the big grill they use. We drag it everywhere," Dazey said. "I have a grandson who's 18, and he just loves to go and fry pancakes."
Now, the Lions are busy with popcorn balls. The work sessions start at 6 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays until Dec. 17 at M.J. Brown on Wall Street. Many students from Sentinel, Hopewell-Loudon and Tiffin City Schools come to volunteer with the annual project, along with members' spouses, children and grandchildren.
Dazey said many of the Lions are elderly, and having younger people to do the more strenuous tasks is helpful.
"If you want a sweet and corny time, come out and make popcorn balls," Dazey said. "It is a fun time. We make a lot of popcorn balls. We sell them, but also we donate a lot to the community."
Dazey said she believes community service needs to start at a young age and service hours requirements for students give youth ideas about various volunteer opportunities.
Last year, her grandson had an eye-opening experience when he helped with the Christmas party for Sharing Kitchen clients.
"He did not realize how well he has it," Dazey said.
The weather was cold, but a man came in without a coat and said he didn't have one. Dazey's grandson had a coat he couldn't wear, so he offered it to the man, who showed sincere gratitude. Dazey said many are not aware of such needs in the community.
"We just take everything for granted. Really, I think It makes you feel good if you can do for someone. I know when we were kids growing up, we didn't have all the glory that everybody had, but we appreciated what we got," she said.
The Lions Club is finishing its projects for the 2012 by staffing the Hospice Tree and the Salvation Army kettles. Dazey said she hasn't volunteered with the Red Cross for a couple years, but she would consider helping if they called her.
"I'm retired, and what would I do if I wasn't out doing something? I've worked full-time for 45 years, and without the community supporting me, I think I need to give back," she said.