HARVARD -- A drop in local volunteering is putting the pressure of large celebrations on only a few, according to Harvard volunteers.
As the town gears up for another year of community events, committee chairs and planners are finding it harder to gather help.
Belinda Friedrich, head of this year's Ludo Festival, said she is worried about Harvard losing some events because of a lack of volunteers. She has heard that celebrations such as the Fourth of July are more and more difficult to hold every year.
"What I noticed is that this happens over a period of time," Friedrich said. "Things start to buckle over time, and for the last few years I've been hearing increasing concerns about a variety of things, especially the higher demand activities that we try to pull off."
The town's upcoming events require months of planning -- Bromfield School's science fair still needs judges, while the school's after-prom party "Celebration," requires 250 volunteers to set up, decorate, elicit prizes and chaperone.
Meanwhile, the Fourth of July committee is crumbling.
The summer celebration requires a person to set up the parade, order event T-shirts and book bands and organize the fireworks show at Fruitlands Museum.
But Sandra Kimball, the committee's previous co-chair, said most committee members are burnt out after four years of working, and now there is a dire need for replacements. Kimball left the committee last year because of the workload.
"It's unfortunate that you have to get to this point," she said. "You can't run something so huge as the Fourth of July with only five people running it -- it's just too hard."
Celebration co-chair Pat Cooper had barely moved into her Harvard home when she was asked to volunteer for the town.
"My husband and I were called as we were spackling the ceiling of our kitchen and asked to help with Fourth of July," she said.
Since then, Cooper said volunteer numbers have definitely dropped. She is trying to gather help for Celebration, an alcohol-free party held after Bromfield's prom.
"I have sent out several pleas to people to try and get them to consider to volunteer and it's been a very, very meager response," Cooper said. Volunteerism is at an all-time low, particularly because of the bad economy, she said.
"When you volunteer, you end up somehow putting a dollar value into the whole process," she said. "It becomes more than just your time. It's the time you didn't spend earning something else, or saving money, or being with your family, or making dinner at home."
While event planners acknowledge that people are busy with children or work, they are urging people to donate just a small amount of their time to take the large workload off of others.
"I know people work and it's really hard, but you can maybe make two phone calls or recruit a friend," said Eileen Sachs Leicher, a parent on the Bromfield School Council who has been trying to recruit volunteers. "There's two things that could be done that would make it easier for everybody else."
Despite the work, Cooper said she and her husband do not regret volunteering.
"It ended up making us feel so much more a part of the community," she said. "It's very rare we can go someplace without seeing a familiar face that we're thrilled to see, and that's the reason we moved to Harvard."
To sign up for Bromfield Celebration, email Cooper at email@example.com. For the Fourth of July, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To volunteer as a judge at the science far, email Leicher at email@example.com.
Any help would be appreciated.