CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A “year of kindness” is underway in West Virginia.

Volunteer West Virginia has launched its 2018 Be Kind, #VolunteerWV campaign with a goal of spreading kindness and volunteerism across the Mountain State.

“A lot of the progress that we see in our communities is due to people really getting involved in solving problems together and most of that is on a volunteer basis,” said Heather Foster, executive director of Volunteer West Virginia.

“Kindness is our way of life.”

Information about volunteer opportunities statewide are available now at Requests for volunteer assistance can also be submitted at the website.

The campaign includes the establishment of local volunteer centers or hubs.

Earlier this month, more than $200,000 in grant funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Volunteer Generation Fund was distributed to eight West Virginia communities to boost volunteerism and develop volunteer centers.

With its $21,000 grant, the United Way of the River Cities, based in Huntington, will support which is an online hub for volunteerism in that area.

Those with the Tucker County Community Foundation plan to use a $26,000 grant to start a pilot program for voluntourism, a form of tourism in which travelers participate in volunteer work largely for charities.

Foster, though, said such formal or traditional volunteering with those organizations or through the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers Big Sisters and others are not the only options.

“People can also get involved and volunteer by just going out their front door and picking up trash in their neighborhood or helping their neighbor get to a medical appointment,” she said.

Such efforts, Foster said, can only help West Virginia.

“We think the long-term success of civic engagement broadly in our communities, one of its most important factors is how people spend their time,” she told MetroNews.

“Spending their time volunteering and helping others is a piece of West Virginia’s fabric. The real culture and history of Appalachia is resiliency and it’s working together to get things done.”

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