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Volunteering aids vitality

Collin Arvold talks with Deerfield resident Mabel Arnquist on Tuesday as he helps Arnquist with her weekly grocery shopping.1 / 2
At the front door of Family Fresh Market in New Richmond, the Arvolds greet residents and provide a shopping cart for each. Shirlon is pictured with her son, Blaine, as they help.2 / 2

Want to live a longer, more productive life? Volunteering for selfless reasons can make a difference in a person's long-term health, and aid in the health of the person receiving the help.

According to the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, which has followed 10,317 Wisconsin residents from their high school graduation in 1957 until the present, those who volunteered regularly and whose motivation was to help others fared better with their health.

The health benefits of volunteering are greatest when a person volunteers between 40 and 100 hours a year, studies suggest.

Additionally, research suggests that those who connect with different people through volunteering also are healthier. More connections among different generations can also have a positive impact on health, experts claim.

You don't need to convince the Dwayne and Shirlon Arvold family of rural Star Prairie of those facts.

The homeschooled family volunteers every Tuesday at Family Fresh Market in New Richmond, helping residents of The Deerfield senior living complex with their grocery shopping.

According to Shirlon, the family has been helping senior citizens shop for about two years.

"We just love the residents," Shirlon said. "They are what keep us coming back."

Shirlon said the volunteer opportunity helps her kids (Logan, 14; Collin, 12; Blaine, 10; and Mikaylyn, 7) learn how rewarding it is to help others and give back to the community.

"It's a win-win situation for everybody," she said. "It goes both ways - we love helping and the residents really appreciate the help."

The morning volunteer session begins as the Arvolds meet the van of Deerfield residents at the front door of Family Fresh. Each resident is given a shopping cart and the family members offer to help anyone who needs a hand. The Arvolds are not only available to pick up items, they are also close by so Deerfield residents can visit a bit.

"They're so sweet and such nice kids," Mabel Arnquist said, as she was joined by Blaine on this Tuesday's shopping trip.

Collin said he gets a lot from the volunteer effort as well.

"We help them find coupon stuff and just help them," he said. "I like the thanks we get."

Collin said he also appreciates getting to know the Deerfield residents.

"Pretty much the same ones come every week, so you get to know them," he said with a smile.