10/15/07 — 2007 Days of Caring organizers report more lives impacted

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2007 Days of Caring organizers report more lives impacted

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on October 15, 2007 1:46 PM

Hands got dirty. Long hours were worked. Tears were shed.

But more importantly, lives were made better -- and that's what made this year's United Way Days of Caring a success.

Nearly 4,700 people, and 10 animals, were impacted through the week's efforts, which were sponsored by the United Way of Wayne County and Volunteer Wayne/RSVP.

"We have never had a tally of animal lives before, but we thought this year should be different," Volunteer Wayne director Barbara Stiles said.

And it was -- this year's numbers were much better than last year.

When the week encouraged people in Wayne County to "open their heart and lend a hand," Ms. Stiles said they jumped in and did just that.

More than 1,300 people volunteered Sept. 14-22 to do everything from framing houses to packing children's backpacks full of school supplies.

"Everyone found something that pulled on their heartstrings and helped out," Mrs. Stiles said.

Those volunteers contributed 2,583 hours of labor to 37 different projects, compared to last year's 1,237 hours to 32 projects.

"I think people realized this year that you don't have to wield a hammer to help out," Mrs. Stiles said. "People understood that there were other things that needed to be done, too."

From supply drives to hands-on projects, the total amount of labor and goods contributed to Days of Caring was valued at $60,427, up from $53,836 last year.

Businesses, county and city government, Seymour John-son Air Force Base, schools, civic organizations, churches and individuals all aided in the efforts.

But the category that grew the most was new business participation, with 11 new businesses lending a hand this year.

"I am very proud of the business community," Mrs. Stiles said.

Some of the businesses have spread out from the Days of Caring to volunteer more of their time throughout the year.

"We would like to work with other businesses to continue to do that," she said.

Students in the area also jumped in to help.

"While other students were out enjoying time off on an early dismissal day, area Key Clubs were making a difference," Mrs. Stiles added.

They participated in Read for the Record, where 1,005 children were read to this year as part of a national campaign to raise literacy awareness. They also painted the Red Cross storage trailer, prepared blood bags and cleaned up the grounds surrounding the Red Cross facility.

Both in Mount Olive and Goldsboro, volunteer efforts helped build two home exteriors through Habitat for Humanity Mini-Blitzes. Their efforts saved five weeks of construction time.

The Girls Scouts, Arts Council Garden and Wayne County Public Library had areas that received beautification as well.

In other areas, volunteers gave 2,460 pounds of food and paper goods for area food pantries, $3,100 worth of school supplies, $5,970 worth of toiletries for hygiene kits for foster children and the mentally ill, 60 decks of cards for the Veterans Hospital in Fayetteville, 225 pillowcases for deployed airmen and $150 worth of dog food and other items for the Adopt-a-Dog program.

"We are looking forward to next year's numbers," Mrs. Stiles said.

Next year's Days of Caring is scheduled for Sept. 12-20.