09/07/08 — United Way's Days of Caring to kick off Friday

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United Way's Days of Caring to kick off Friday

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on September 7, 2008 11:50 AM

Last year, more than 1,337 volunteers shared a bit of their time in September to make a difference in their community.

This year, the organizers of the 18th annual Days of Caring hope even more Wayne County residents pick a project and join the fun when the event begins Friday.

Days of Caring continues through Sept. 20.

The event allows individuals, groups and businesses to give back to their communities through various volunteer service projects.

There will be small, simple projects for those who have limited time and then larger projects for those who want to be more involved, said Sue Guy, Days of Caring chairman.

"For those who have never volunteered before, it's an opportunity to get a taste of the joy of helping those with needs, and often these one-time volunteers form longer relationships with the nonprofit groups that lead to continuous volunteering," Ms. Guy said.

Last year's volunteers did 37 service projects for 22 local agencies. They ranged from food drives to providing emergency kits for seniors to beautifying parts of Wayne County. Volunteers gave 2,583 hours of service and contributed $11,944 in materials.

Ms. Guy said the estimated value of the service hours was $48,483.

This year, 22 agencies have submitted a list of needs for 27 projects, which organizers say can still use vounteers.

"People can volunteer for one hour or an entire day," said Debbie Pittman, public relations coordinator.

And for those who don't have time to give, there are several collection drives, which will help local agencies.

"Businesses can be drop-off points for any one of these projects," Ms. Pittman said.

What community organizations collect, they do not have to buy, she said. That means more money can go to improving or adding services.

"The impact that comes from these kinds of projects is huge," she said.

One of the projects seeks to fill suitcases with personal items for foster children -- a gift they can take with them as they move to their new homes, Ms. Pittman said.

Another offers bereavement quilts to families who either have a terminally ill patient at the hospital or who have lost a child.

"The quilts offer them a bit of comfort at a very trying time," Ms. Pittman said.

Other food and supply drives include:

* Hygiene items for the forgotten in Wayne County

* First aid kits

* Baby supplies, toys and books

* Supplies for canine rescue

* Duffle bags for children and adolescents

* Disaster supplies

* School supplies for the Cherry adolescent unit

* Supplies for the Boys and Girls Clubs

n Telephone cards

n Food for local food pantries

* School supplies for Communities In School

Other projects include:

* Interior and exterior beautification for the Boys and Girls Club

* Cleaning and refurbishing picnic tables

* Landscaping at the Mount Olive Nutrition Program

* Beautification at the Arts Council gardens

* Garden cleanup at the Wayne County Public Library

* Wash and wax disaster response vehicles

* Build natural play environments for children

* Providing foster homes for rescued dogs

* Pillowcases and infant T-shirts to create momentos for deployed airmen

n Delivering Meals on Wheels

So far, 12 groups and three businesses have registered to participate in Days of Caring, but there is still time to be part of the effort. Call Volunteer Wayne/RSVP at 735-5151, ext. 336, send an e-mail to jwpearce@waynecc.edu or go online at www.volunteer wayne.org.

There will be an opening ceremony to kick off the event Friday at 8:30 a.m. at the Wayne County courthouse square off Walnut Street. Entertainment will be provided by Center Stage Encore performers, and the American Red Cross will provide refreshments.