If you think that the Golden Years are meant strictly for relaxation, meet a few hundred people who beg to differ.

Freeholders Gerry P. Little (left) and Joseph H. Vicari present a proclamation honoring the Retire and Senior Volunteer Program to RSVP Chairwoman Jane Kirby and Program Director Alisa MacCrate.

About 500 Ocean County senior citizens who turned in 37,000 hours of service in the county's Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) in 2012 got special recognition from the Board of Freeholders during a luncheon in Toms River Tuesday.

RSVP, under the auspices of the county's Social Services and Senior Services departments, is in its 31st year of matching older adults with needy members of the community. The volunteers devote time to 44 different support agencies.

"These senior citizens have a great deal of energy, enthusiasm and experience," says Freeholder Gerry Little, the Social Services liaison. "They work in our Meals On Wheels program, the Red Cross, the county libraries, our senior services, historical society. They volunteer in our courts, our animal shelters. They're just really, really great people."

Little and Freeholder Joe Vicari presented them with a proclamation.

Little calls them "...true treasures of Ocean County. We could not replace them. And actually, if you were to pay these individuals for their services it would be the equivalent of $950,000 each year."

The question, says Little, is how to pass on the spirit to the next generation of RSVP volunteers. "We encourage our volunteers...to talk to their friends and neighbors, tell people what they do, and ask if they'd like to lend a helping hand." He says the program proved its worth in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

If you'd like to become part of it, visit the Social Services and Senior Services offices, 1027 Hooper Avenue, Toms River. Social Services can be reached at 732-349-1500 / TDD: 732-244-3812. Senior Services can be reached at 800-668-4899.

Visit the Ocean County web page for details on this and the full menu of county programs and services.