T   he search is on. And we all need to help.

Because York County could be the home of the eventual winner of an award honoring senior citizens who volunteer their time and energy to the community.

That one special person out of hundreds of special people who volunteer in this county.

I love these kinds of things, and since I was asked to help spread the word, I figured I'd do my best.

There could be, after all, a York countian with all the necessary qualifications to be chosen the most outstanding senior service volunteer in the state ... maybe even the country.

And if there is, we need to help find him or her.

Given the long history of volunteerism York countians are known for, I wouldn't be a bit surprised to find the winner in York.

And that is the whole idea, said Kristin Danley-Greiner, a spokeswoman for Home Instead Senior Care, the sponsor for the Salute to Senior Service program.

The Salute to Senior Service program intends to honor "the contributions of adults 65 years of age and older who give at least 15 hours a month of volunteer service to their favorite causes," Danley-Greiner said.

That works out to about one morning or one afternoon a week. Lots of local volunteers give that much time or more. Some, a lot more.

Danley-Greiner added that nominations for outstanding senior volunteers "will be accepted between Feb. 1 and March 31." And the nominations can be made online at SalutetoSeniorService.com. Voting will take place between April 15 and April 30 on the same site.

"We are encouraging friends, co-workers, family members and nonprofit organizations to nominate deserving seniors for possible state and national honors," Danley-Greiner said.

Hey, I'm thinking this is a contest that can and should be won by a York countian.

The winner in each state will receive $500, and the national winner will be awarded $5,000 to be donated to the winner's charity or charities of choice, she said.

And it's a wide-open field -- it's a chance, Danley-Greiner said, "to honor seniors who donate their time and talents to local schools, hospitals and other community organizations."

That includes those who might volunteer in a nursing home, the YWCA or YMCA, Scouts, senior centers, after-school programs for kids, food kitchens and coaches in youth athletic programs. The sky's the limit.

Almost.

Just in case anyone out there was thinking about nominating me for the more than 15 hours a month I spend working in my own backyard, forget it. That doesn't count. It might count if someone else were volunteering to work in my backyard, but that hasn't happened so you'll have to look somewhere else for your volunteer candidate.

Here in York County, there are viable candidates behind almost every door. You won't have to look terribly hard to find a volunteer that impresses you.

"We all know seniors who do so much for our community," said Laurie Hamilton, owner of a Home Instead Senior Care office serving York County. "These silent heroes give selflessly, expecting nothing in return. And yet their contributions often make a difference not only to the organizations they serve, but in changing how the public views growing older."

Home Instead doesn't use volunteers, but it certainly recognizes the value of senior volunteers in a variety of community settings.

And so should we all.

It'd be a feather in our cap if the top senior citizen volunteer in this state and country came from right here in York County.

So the search is on.

I'm looking.

You should look, too.

Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: lhicks@yorkdispatch.com.