First Lady Sandra Deal talks with volunteer Adrian Drost.

Georgia‘s First Lady, Sandra Deal, honored volunteers from an Atlanta-based charity on June 23 for their hard work and dedication.

At the Northern Trust bank in Buckhead, Mrs. Deal handed awards to volunteers from MedShare, which takes leftover medical supplies from the U.S. and sends them to developing countries.

Gov. Nathan Deal and Vince Farley, the honorary consul of Mali, also attended the ceremony and applauded the volunteers for their hours spent packing medical supplies, according to a MedShare spokesperson.

Mrs. Deal presented Marc Girardot, Beth Caldwell and Diane Keltz with the top three awards. Mr. Girardot is the founder of BioMed Design LLC, a medical device company that develops technology for treatment and sterilization of tissue used in surgical procedures.

Ms. Caldwell works in a veterinarian office in Stone Mountain and served over 700 hours in four years with MedShare. Ms. Keltz recieved an award that celebrates the spirit behind volunteerism for efforts in making the staff and volunteers feel comfortable, said Elizabeth Haskell, volunteer coordinator.

Volunteers with 100-1,500 hours of service were also recognized.

The first lady participated in the event as part of her platform “With a Servant’s Heart,” which focuses on community involvement and volunteerism. 

MedShare shipped 98 containers of medical supplies and equipment in fiscal year 2011 to places like Cameroon, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, Sudan and Zimbabwe. MedShare containers have gone to 86 countries since 1999.

The organization’s volunteers have played a crucial role in preparing these shipments, said A.B. Short, CEO and co-founder.

“What we do wouldn’t be possible without volunteers … they are the fuel for MedShare’s mission, and it was our honor to recognize their contributions at our volunteer appreciation banquet,” Mr. Short told GlobalAtlanta in an email.

While the company relies on commercial and personal donations to gather supplies and cover shipping costs, it relies on 12,000 volunteers each year to package the supplies.

Along with Mrs. Deal, MedShare has had a number of foreign dignitaries visit its warehouse this year.

Victor Kaput, minister of health for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, visited in April with colleagues from the health ministry. Mayor Alfred Vanderpuije of Accra, Ghana visited the warehouse in March and was followed by the mayor of Kumasi, Ghana, Samuel Sarpong, in April.

The warehouse also received delegations from Niger, China and Tonga, a nation consisting of 176 islands in the south Pacific Ocean.

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