The East Dallas Chamber of Commerce recently presented its Community Service Awards for Education to highlight volunteer efforts in our community.

Each year, there are numerous stories of hope and extraordinary contributions of time and talent. The dedication of our community volunteers is amazing.

Awards are granted in three categories – individuals, business and a group/organization. Nominees are judged on the number of students served, the quality of the contribution and how the community benefited from the service. Also considered is the consistency and originality of the contributions.

The nominees have spent countless hours in their efforts and truly care about the future of our children. Many of the efforts have gone unrecognized. They serve solely with the sincere desire to make a difference. They understand it takes the whole community to give our children the education they deserve.

The individual winner was Charles “Chuck” Farmer, a retired senior vice president of E-Systems, Inc. Farmer tutors students who failed the math section of the TAAS test at Lake Highlands High School. He works three hours each morning inspiring students to achieve.

He also has provided incentive programs and has set up a foundation through E-Systems, Inc. in Garland for scholarships. He not only teaches math skills, but also lifetime skills of dependability and responsibility.

The business winner was MEPC, an adopter for Alex Sanger Elementary School for the last 10 years. The company has taken its responsibility to heart.

Company representatives meet with the principal to find the best ways for the school to achieve its goals. The company has provided a video camera, television and VCR, heat copier and computers.

All 575 children are provided three to four books each year, as well as prizes for the Science Fair, academic achievement and attendance at each level and a Christmas writing contest. MEPC is a constant encouragement to the teachers, students and community.

The group/organization winner was the Bryan Adams High School P.A.L., Peer Assistance Leadership. Participants have mentored 35 children at Kiest Elementary School and several of their own peers from Bryan Adams. They have served homeless children and their families and provided approximately 3,000 East Dallas elementary students with a drug prevention program called “Goodbye Mr. Lie.”

The P.A.L. program is an important tool for educating young people and encouraging students to participate in community service.

These are only three of the many inspiring stories of volunteers in education today. We appreciate and thank everyone who invests in and believes in the importance of our children and their education.

Each one is truly a winner.