ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - "Obviously the best part of volunteering is seeing the faces of the people you help," said Andrea Dent.
Ten years ago, Andrea Dent started volunteering at the Kingdom House food pantry. Right outside the food pantry is a sign of Dent's dedication. The food pantry is named "Andrea's Market".
"I wanted to volunteer to teach my children where the food and money that we donated went," Dent said. Her son, Noah, a freshman at Webster Groves High School, has been volunteering alongside his mom since he was four.
"It's taught me a lot of life lessons," Noah said, "like it's important to give back to others and your community because someday you might need the same help."
St. Louis is ranked 8th in the nation when it comes to volunteering. That's according to a study by the Corporation for National & Community Service. In 2012, 730,000 people, nearly 32 percent of St. Louis area residents volunteered, according to the study. Those volunteer donated 73 million hours of service worth more $1.6 billion dollars. Nationally, 64.5 million Americans volunteered last year.
You don't have to be famous to be a volunteer, but In St. Louis, it's not unusual to see a sports star like Cardinals pitcher Trevor Rosenthal volunteering by collecting money for the Salvation army. Rosenthal and several teammates took turn ringing the bell next to the well known red kettle.
"The United Way has a close relationship all of our sports teams and all of our businesses that support this community," said Rick Skinner of the United Way.
Skinner is the vice president of the United Way Volunteer Center. Skinner says St. Louis' volunteer spirit sets our region apart.
"This is a very giving community and there are many ways to make a difference," Skinner said, "many ways your family, your co-workers, your colleagues, to make a difference for a short amount of time or a longer period of time. You can help around the holidays to spread the joy to seniors at a senior center, or working with youth, working with people with disabilities."
There are 730,000 St. Louis volunteers. An army of volunteers, unsung and unpaid. That's what makes them priceless.
"There's a lot of people that want to share what they have with others," Andrea Dent said.