Tahlequah Daily Press


May 13, 2014

For Fritts, volunteering is second nature

TAHLEQUAH — The 30th annual Save-A-Senior after-graduation party plans are almost complete, but the volunteer coordinator said they could still use donations.

Shelia Ann Unger-Fritts became passionate about volunteering in her junior college days at Westark College, now the University of Arkansas Fort Smith, by donating her time in the Make-A-Wish foundation’s gift wrap store. Since then she’s been affiliated with Toys for Tots, the United Way of Adair County, Relay for Life, Stilwell Youth Wrestling, Stilwell Youth Football, numerous little league teams, several benefit runs and walks, the Shriners, Cornerstone Fellowship, Beta Sigma Phi, Delta Kappa Chapter, and her Family, Career and Community Leaders of America students.

“That’s 24 years,” said Fritts. “Time sure does fly.”

Fritts is the Family and Consumer Science, Career Orientation, Customer Service and Personal Finance and FCCLA adviser at Keys High School. She has lived in the Tahlequah/Stilwell area for the past 19 years. She attended Stilwell High School through her sophomore year.

“I honestly don’t remember ever not volunteering. It’s kind of like walking. I know I had to start somewhere, but it was so long ago I don’t remember those first steps,” said Fritts.

For Fritts, it’s important to give back to the community.

“I volunteer my time because it’s important to me to make a difference in the world around me,” she said. “I’ve been a single mom for 14 years and I teach school. Obviously, there’s not a lot of extra money lying around my house, so volunteering is my way of giving back,” she said.

Fritts said her community really took care of her and her family a few years ago when her son was severely burned.

“I’d like to think that my heart for giving helped spur that. I’d also like to think that God has blessed me and my kids with the ability to make a difference in people’s lives with our volunteer efforts,” she said.

Fritts chooses organizations that provide the opportunity to make a difference close to home, especially those that have a direct impact on her kids and family.

“Specifically, for Save-A-Senior, I’ve been responsible for organizing and working all of the fundraiser and parent meetings, making deposits, securing contracts, buying the give-aways, organizing volunteers for that night and keeping parents and administrators in the loop,” she said. “I’m really proud to be a part of Beta Sigma Phi. It’s a wonderful group of women and focuses on helping families right here in our community.”

Fritts’ daughter, Shelby, is senior class president.

‘So as her mom, I have the honor of organizing this year’s event,” said Fritts. “The goal is to keep our graduates safe and off the roads as they celebrate their graduation. It also serves to provide a fun last hurrah for them as a senior class.”

She also volunteers at her church, Cornerstone Fellowship, in the youth department by working in the 1-year-old room a couple of times each month.

“This year, I’m excited to be helping at Falls Creek for the first time by playing some leadership and team-building games at camp. It’s going to be great,” she said.

Most volunteers say a family member demonstrated the value of volunteering, as does Fritts.

“My parents always jumped in to help family, friends and neighbors in need. My mom was my Girl Scout leader when I was little and is a nurse, so she’s always had a very caring heart. My dad use to pick up hitchhikers all the time and really demonstrated to me that everybody can use a helping hand some time ,” she said.

Now her daughter has the volunteer spirit.

“Shelby volunteers even more than I do and has a passionate heart for volunteering. She’s tireless,” said Fritts.

Every community is only as good as the people , she said.

“It’s our duty to help others and make a difference,” said Fritts. “Make time to volunteer, you will never regret it and you’ll set a good example for your kids and grandkids. No effort is too small. Everyone can make a difference in someone’s life.”

To make a donation to Save-A-Senior, email Shelia.a.fritts90@gmail.com, call or text her at 918-797-8278, or mail a check addressed to Save-A-Senior to the Tahlequah Board of Education office at 225 N. Water Street, Tahlequah, Okla., 74464.

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Do you think "blue laws" related to Sunday alcohol sales in Oklahoma should be relaxed? Choose the option that most closely reflects your opinion.

Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars, and liquor stores should be open.
Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars only; liquor stores should stay closed.
Liquor stores should be open Sundays, but drinks should not be served anywhere on Sundays.
The law should remain as it is now; liquor stores should be closed, and drinks should be served on Sundays according to county option.
No alcohol should be sold or served publicly on Sundays.
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