2017 Eleven Who Care recap: Part 1

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Each month, we highlight an outstanding volunteer in the community in our Eleven Who Care segment. Now, we are taking look back at those people who have made a difference in many different people's lives.

2017 began with tragedy when an EF-2 tornado struck Lauderdale in January, leaving behind only piles of debris where family homes once stood. But in the wake of adversity, one group of volunteers stepped up to help.

"Most clients are very appreciative, and it's a very good feeling," Red Cross volunteer Donna Harrison says.

Red Cross volunteers came out in full force to find ways to help those in need.

February takes us to a woman who's dedicated years to helping people and animals. Meet Kim Blanton.

"You put a horse and a human together, and it's very beneficial," Blanton says.

Blanton's nonprofit organization Coyote Hills Equine Rescue and Therapeutic Riding takes in abused or neglected horses. She also acts as a riding instructor for the disabled.

In March, we saw Roger Smith's boyhood dream come true. He says he always wanted an old theater, and when he came across the Temple nearly a decade ago, it was a perfect match.

"This theater embodied everything I was looking for," Smith says.

He's worked nonstop to preserve the Temple Theater and keep its rich history alive.

April brought us a volunteer whose ministry is providing clothes to kids in need. Brenda Vowell orchestrates God's Closet. They now serve about 650 kids in the Neshoba County area.

"That's what it's all about, showing God's love through what they need."

In May, Brenda Buxton was nominated to Eleven Who Care for her work with Community of Hope. She helped to found the scholarship program in 2011, promoting volunteerism with students. She's been a mentor to these students, but she's not afraid to get her hands dirty, either.

"I can't ask them to do something I'm not doing, so I volunteer in the different areas," Buxton says.

Officer Patrick Kirby stood out from the crowd in June. Papa 1 has been protecting and serving with the Meridian Police Dept. for more than two decades. More often than not, you'll find him out in the community, meeting citizens and spreading a little love to kids in the area.

"We are out here because we care about our neighborhood, our community," Kirby says.

That sense of community is something all of our nominees have in common. We'll have a look at more men and women who served as a shining example in part two of our Eleven Who Care recap. That's Wednesday on Newscenter 11 at 6 and 10.