08/04/13 — Days of Caring event set for Aug. 19

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Days of Caring event set for Aug. 19

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on August 4, 2013 1:50 AM

It might be something as simple as picking up trash in your neighborhood.

Or maybe you want to be a part of something larger like sharing a meal with a group of homeless men or creating special beds for dogs waiting for new homes at the local animal shelter.

No matter what you choose, you won't be alone, said Catherine LeChot of the United Way of Wayne County.

That is the purpose of the annual Days of Caring event, which begins Aug. 19 -- joining your neighbors and other community volunteers as they band together to help out where needed.

"United Way is all about creating an impact within Wayne County," said Catherine LeChot, United Way community engagement manager. "One way to do that is through volunteering, so we want to promote volunteering as a way to make a personal impact on the community."

Volunteers can create "Caring Crews" of their own and adopt their own project or they can join one of the already-established projects registered online at www.unitedwayne.org.

Big or small, one-day or multi-day, any effort can make a difference to a local charity or someone in need, Ms. LeChot said.

"When you read to 10 or 15 children, you know you've done something great. When you make beds to make dogs' time at the shelter more comfortable, you've done something great. When you interact with 15 homeless men who might not have anybody outside the shelter to talk to that day, you've made an impact."

That's exactly what the Salvation Army is hoping for at its Food and Fellowship events, planned for each night during the week.

Volunteers are asked to take a prepared meal for the 16 men who live in the shelter and to share it with them.

"Sometimes people don't talk to those who are homeless because they may be scared to," Salvation Army commander Lt. Kenny Igleheart said. "This is an opportunity to have a discussion with the homeless men and talk to them about what's going on in their lives on a daily basis.

"It's also an opportunity for the shelter clients to hear the life story of someone who maybe made a change in their life. It gives them hope to rise up from where they are now, and hope is a powerful thing."

Members of the staff at North Carolina Community Credit Union are hoping to spread a little sunshine around the community as their Caring Crew plans several projects through the Days of Caring week.

They will deliver Meals on Wheels, participate in Read to Succeed, prepare meals for the Salvation Army's Food and Fellowship event and volunteer at the United Way kickoff.

"We wanted to volunteer, but there were so many great opportunities that we didn't want to pick just one, so we picked several," said Brittany Acree, the credit union's marketing and public relations director. "We chose opportunities that were different so we could help out with as many as we could."

Ms. Acree said the credit union has always been a strong supporter of United Way and what it does for Wayne County. And the credit union itself is built upon the premise of people helping people.

"It's important for us to give back to causes that are important to our members and give back to the community that's supported us throughout our 56 years here," Ms. Acree said.

"For us, it's the staff knowing we are serving people in Wayne County, and we are making a difference in someone's life -- even if it's in such a small way. We see firsthand what United Way has done here so anything we can do to help them, we will."

There are more than 25 projects at different agencies for this year's Days of Caring, including the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Literacy Connections, Boys and Girls Club, Communities in Schools, WATCH and WAGES, Ms. LeChot said.

And there are already more than 130 volunteers.

But there is always room for one more -- or another project or two. Everyone from families to Scout troops and church youth groups are invited to attend. Or, gather up a few friends from work and join in the fun, Ms. LeChot said.

"This is probably close to double the number of volunteers we had last year," she said. "It's great to see across the community people coming together to volunteer for Days of Caring."

To sign up as a volunteer, go online to www. volunteerwayne.org and click on Days of Caring. Or if you're doing your own project, call United Way to have it listed.

For more information about the event, call the United Way office at 919-735-3591.