Veronica Gonzales
(Timbers.com)

Stand Together's July #IST4 winner Veronica Gonzales and her love of volunteering

This summer, we invite you to share your photos and videos of how you give back to the community. Show us on Twitter and Instagram by tagging @PTStandTogether in your post with the hashtag #IST4. We want to see how YOU Stand Together. This social media contest runs from June 20 until September 9, 2016.

A select number of the participants and their submissions will be showcased on our website. They will also receive team signed items, game tickets and a meet and greet with their favorite player!

Our latest winner: Veronica Gonzales.

How often do you volunteer?
"Beginning when I was seven, it has been an annual tradition of mine to volunteer every summer and during the school year to better my community. My first project in second grade was collecting winter coats and blankets for donation to the homeless in my town, and I have been devoted to service ever since. Typically, I plant flowers and pull weeds from flower beds for my local botanical garden, help with various school events, and teach children how to play soccer and do gymnastics. Last year, I volunteered for people with Down syndrome to be a part of the Buddy Walk and in the upcoming summer I plan to give up my time to help with a Christian music festival."

Why is giving back important to you? What inspires you to get involved in volunteer projects?
"In my faith, we believe that who we are is defined by what we do for others. I find that an essential part of living life (as opposed to existing) is giving all that I have and all that I am, especially my gifts and talents, to better those in need. The service that I do humbles me and allows me to be grateful for every blessing I have, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. My motivation is simple: the happiness of the strangers I encounter in my volunteering. This joy I bring to them draws me back into service in every opportunity I receive."

In your submission, what volunteer project were working on? 
"My volunteer project during my submission was my involvement in the Toledo YES Project. The YES Project is Christian-based and focuses on bringing high school and college students together to serve those in need. This year, I was very fortunate to be chosen to participate in this lovely and unique project with people who share my thirst for spreading happiness and promoting generosity."

How did you get involved in that project? 
"In the past, many of my friends have partaken in the Toledo YES Project and have gushed about the delightful time they had and their appreciation for this opportunity to change a life for the better. It always has an abundance of applications, so when I learned that I was chosen to be a part of this life changing experience, I was beyond thankful."

If there was one thing you could tell readers to inspire them to give back through volunteerism, what would it be?
"If your goal is to see your community as what it is and improve upon it, volunteering is a simple yet effective way to reach it. There is an unfathomable amount of benefits that come with volunteering, and an unmeasurable amount of good that comes from a single act. If you aren't sure what to do, try beginning at what you have undeniable passion for and work from there. Opportunity is limitless, and nothing surpasses doing what you love and loving what you do."

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