Local businesses, groups take time to care for others
By Becky Barclay
Published in News on September 14, 2006 1:52 PM
Wayne County residents are rolling up their sleeves and even getting a little dirty to better their community this week.
During the 2006 Days of Caring, volunteers from businesses, schools and civic groups are doing everything from landscaping and holding food and supply drives to building playground equipment and sponsoring a basketball clinic for youths.
One of the biggest projects this year has been preparing disaster kits for seniors and the homebound. This project was developed by Wayne County Services on Aging, WAGES Nutrition Program and the Wayne County Chapter of the American Red Cross.
The Meals on Wheels program came up with a list of 700 recipients who are frail and homebound. The goal was to prepare at least 100 disaster kits, but so far 500 have been assembled.
They contain basic emergency supplies such as first aid kits, tissues, hand sanitizer, flashlight with batteries, a whistle, gauze and gloves.
The kits also contain a brochure from the Red Cross about disaster preparedness and what to do if one occurs. And there is a sheet with tips on additional items to add to the disaster kit, such as medications currently being taken and a change of clothes.
Some of the supplies were donated. Strickland Insurance donated supplies for 100 kits and then assembled 100 kits. Also donating supplies were Advantage Hospice and Home Care, Goldsboro Medical Specialists, Wayne County EMS and the Council on Aging.
"Wayne County has demonstrated it has a special place in its heart for seniors," said Barbara Stiles, director of Volunteer Wayne, one of the Days of Caring sponsors.
Another project was building benches for employees at the Wayne Opportunity Center. Taking on this project were employees of Turner Equipment Co. "We sent three employees to the Opportunity Center to build and stain benches for the employees and staff to sit on during their breaks and lunch hour," said Duffy Fleming of Turner Equipment.
"They like to be outside and had nothing to sit on. We are also doing a food drive for the Salvation Army the whole week, and that's company wide."
Mrs. Fleming said Turner Equipment always participates in United Way (the other Days sponsor) activities. "The owner, Gary Smithwick, is a big supporter of United Way because when he was little, he was affected by a house fire, and United Way agencies helped him."
Even the schools are getting in on the many opportunities to volunteer in the community. Belfast Academy's students and staff are helping Habitat for Humanity.
Other schools are holding food and supply drives and helping assembly the disaster kits.
Mrs. Stiles said the purpose of the Days of Caring event is to "inspire everybody in Wayne County to put their own cares on hold for one day and go out and do something for someone in need."
But the end goal, she said, is to not only make a difference in that one agency for one day, but to connect to that agency for future projects.
There were 45 projects registered this year, according to Mrs. Stiles. That's about 12 more than last year.
"We had new agencies that have not participated in past years with projects," she said. "For example, Cherry Hospital's teen psychiatric unit had several projects. And one of the matches was volunteers to help with a basketball clinic for the unit's youths."
She said the event is going great. "We've had great response from the community. We've had some agencies that have had all their projects completed or matched with volunteers.
"Then we have had a few that have not yet been matched with volunteers. But even after the Days of Caring event, these projects can still be done."
For more information about Days of Caring or to volunteer to do a project, call Volunteer Wayne at 735-5151.
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