Thumbs up, as is our custom following an election or primary, to the hundreds of folks across Central Virginia who make the entire day possible: the volunteer poll workers.

These men and women are the foot soldiers of our democracy, and we owe them as much gratitude and respect as we owe the veterans of our nation’s armed forces, whom we’ll be honoring on Monday, Veterans Day. Without the dedication of these men and women, it’s highly questionable our democratic republic could operate as smoothly and efficiently as it does each and every election day.

Each locality has its own voter registrar which, along with a small staff, handles the day-to-day maintenance of the voter rolls and citizen questions. But the real strength of each office is its network of loyal volunteer poll workers who dutifully show up year after to man the precincts for elections, whether the general election or party primaries.

Theirs is a vital task. They’re at their precincts late into the night the day before an election setting up, making sure the equipment is functional and that all is ready to go. And the next morning, often with little sleep, they’re back at work, opening up the doors at 6 for voters. Their day is filled with the minutiae of democracy — answering voters’ questions, verifying identities, logging in voters and making sure all goes smoothly. They often don’t leave until late that night, after computer tallies have been run and the results reported to the registrar’s office and equipment secured.

We owe these folks a debt of gratitude for the work they put in each year. Indeed, for many poll workers, it’s something they do year in and year out — it’s their civic duty to their country.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. We’ll see you next year at the polls.

* * *

Thumbs up to the more than 1,500 Liberty University students who were busy at work Wednesday night in the Vines Center preparing hundreds of special care packages for foster children in the Lynchburg region.

The Unclaimed Baggage Center in Alabama, which buys lost luggage the nation’s airlines are unable to reunite with owners, donated more than 300 pieces luggage to LU through its Reclaimed for Good program. Students then turned each piece into a special piece of art for each foster child and filled it with the items of everyday life foster kids need: teddy bears, toiletries, school supplies ... anything a child might need.

And why lost luggage? Because when kids enter the foster care program, they usually have nothing but garbage bags to move their belongings with. Now, thanks to these LU students, they have much more.

The company holds these “Love Luggage Day” events across the country, but company officials were overwhelmed with the turnout at LU. Congratulations to all involved.

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