Laura and Stephanie VanVliet have given a lot to the Dublin Irish Festival.

Laura and Stephanie VanVliet have given a lot to the Dublin Irish Festival.

Now, they have received something in return.

The recent Coffman High School graduates and longtime Irish festival volunteers were awarded the Dublin Irish Festival Emerald Club scholarships in the spring, an honor bestowed upon people who have contributed to the festival through performing or volunteering.

The twins said they've been volunteering at the Irish festival since the fourth grade.

It began as a family affair.

"Our entire family has volunteered," Stephanie said. "We started in the Wee Folk area and progressed from there."

The sisters usually volunteer with other family members and with nearly 10 years as volunteers under their belts, Laura said their jobs have run the gamut.

"We've done admissions and last year we started working in the VIP kitchen," she said. "It's a really fun environment."

"It's a great way to meet people in the community," Stephanie added. "It's a place where people from not only Dublin, but all of Ohio and beyond meet. It's really great to meet people you would have not gotten a chance to meet otherwise."

For Laura, the work has given her an appreciation for all of the planning that goes into the three-day event, which starts Friday.

"It's nice to know people behind the scenes who work in Dublin all the time. They do a lot of stuff and it gives me an appreciation of a lot of behind the scenes work," she said. "I didn't understand it as a fourth-grader, but as I've grown up I've noticed."

The sisters will be manning the admission gate this year, which they agree is one of their favorite jobs.

"My favorite would be working in admission and tickets," Stephanie said. "You get to see all the different people coming in. It's great people watching."

Laura is heading to Ohio State University in the fall and Stephanie will go to Ohio Wesleyan University.

Both plan to come back and volunteer for the Irish festival next year.

"I'm definitely coming back," Stephanie said. "I'm really looking forward to going as long as I can do it."

"It's fun because we have an older sister who is in college who still volunteers," Laura said. "She can reconnect with friends from high school. It's a really great hometown feeling."

While volunteering at the Irish festival is a definite in future years for Laura and Stephanie, the twins said giving back is something they've been taught to do.

"It's something my parents have really instilled in us that volunteering is very important and even when you're really busy with jobs it's important to give back," Laura said.

The VanVliet twins volunteer at their church with mission trips and vacation Bible school in addition to Girl Scout activities. Community service activities with school groups also have dominated the twins' schedules.

"I'm planning on keeping with community involvement when I go to college," Stephanie said. "The importance of volunteering in the community is just so monumental when you grow up and even when you're an adult."