Last month, I did something that gave me as much of a rush as teaching a fitness class. And in the process, I helped others stay healthy.

For a few hours I volunteered to dispense free, over-the-counter medicines with N.C. MedAssist, a nonprofit pharmacy program that provides free or low-cost access to prescription medications to uninsured residents.

The agency also provides patient support, advocacy and related services.

Tonia Harris, development and volunteer coordinator, said this was the third year for the OTC program. About 320 people received medications the day I volunteered, she said.

To participate in the program, walk-ins must sign an affidavit stating that the medications will be used for their intended purpose and won’t be resold. Free items include cough and cold medication, band-aids, vitamins, pain and allergy medications, and much more. The items have been donated to MedAssist from Second Harvest Food Bank, which received the items from drugstores.

My “job” was to monitor large donation boxes as participants browsed through, answering questions and making sure they did not take excessive amounts. A few of the people I met shared personal stories; others expressed thanks.

Harris said the program relies on the help of volunteers.

“From sorting, boxing to handing out medicine, we appreciate everyone’s time,” she said. “And I appreciate an opportunity to do good for others!

Yes, it was humbling to pay it forward.

Want to volunteer? The next OTC giveaway is scheduled for Friday, July 10, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Project 658 (3646 Central Avenue). Click here for more details, or contact Harris at 704-350-3574.

Until next time, I wish you joy, wellness and good health.

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Sondra E. Z. Hines is an AFAA-certified group fitness instructor, Zumba instructor, workshop presenter and motivational speaker. A former adjunct professor, she has 15-plus years as a fitness instructor...