Throughout the year, the Jackson County History Center receives a variety of donations to add to its collection.
Some are small enough to place in display cases, while others are large enough to stand on their own.
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When it comes time to change things around, most of the center’s volunteers aren’t able to move some of the large, heavy items.
Fortunately, there are groups willing to step up and help with whatever tasks are needed.
Sixteen people from Driftwood Christian Church spent several hours on a recent Saturday helping rearrange displays and move items from one building to another.
“It’s invaluable,” said Margo Brewer, a history center volunteer. “The things that they are doing today, we couldn’t do, we can’t do. It’s just physically impossible for us to do. They brought in people that can lift, and they’ve got the equipment to do it and loaded it on their trailer.”
Brewer said center volunteers change the displays every so often, but it’s nice to have an outside group come in and offer its input.
“Those things we can do, but they like to do it, and it’s a different eye looking at it, and they see it differently than we do,” Brewer said. “You have to do that once in a while to keep the place fresh.”
Adam Disque was the leader of the church group that volunteered. He is a fourth-grade teacher at Medora Elementary School, and his students go to the center each year in the spring to tour the campus.
When he recently called Brewer about his students visiting the center this spring, she asked him about helping with a project before then.
“He’s always telling me, ‘I wish I could help over here,’” Brewer said. “I said, ‘Adam, have you got any friends?’ He said, ‘Well, I might. Why?’ I told him what we needed. We’ve had some heavy stuff that had to be moved out and rearranged.”
Disque shared that with fellow mission committee members at church, and he wound up with 15 people to help him.
“I went to them and basically said, ‘This is a local group of people who have done a lot of good, they’ve been really good to me. Can we go try to help them out?’” Disque said. “We always take a trip in the summer as a church group, but we’re trying to find some local things. This is just a good local place to come try to help out and move some things.”
By rearranging displays and moving items in the buildings, the church volunteers helped the center prepare for when fourth-graders from around the county visit in April and May. That’s usually close to 700 kids plus adult chaperones.
Each visit goes from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Students are placed in groups of 15, and they spend 20 minutes in each building. They receive a break for lunch, which they bring and eat at the nearby Jackson County Park.
Brewer said it takes about 30 center volunteers to help on the six days fourth-graders visit.
“All of the teachers tell me that we’re hitting the state standards that they can’t hit in the classroom,” Brewer said.
The center invites other groups to volunteer throughout the year. Brewer said a group usually volunteers as part of Jackson County United Way’s Day of Caring in the spring, but it’s hit-and-miss other times of the year.
For one thing, some people don’t even know the center exists, Brewer said.
“We’re the best-kept secret in Jackson County, and we don’t want to be,” she said. “We want people to know that we’re here.”
Disque said he has been to other historical sites around the state, and volunteers with the Jackson County History Center provide as good of a learning experience for his students.
“They do a really nice job with the kids in our community, showing them all of the things, letting them go through each of the buildings, and they have somebody to lead us and guide us through everything,” he said. “I don’t know if the community at-large knows the amount of good things they do for the students and the schools. They do a tremendous job with that.”
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The Jackson County History Center is at the corner of Walnut and Sugar streets in Brownstown.
The office and genealogy library are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Friday and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.
The Frederick Keach Heller Memorial Museum is open from 9 to 11 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Tours can be arranged at other hours by appointment by calling 812-358-2118.