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Volunteers sought for 2017 United Way Day of Caring

By Clint Thomas, Metro Reporter
Huntington National Bank employees pitch in to clean up a pooch at the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association during a previous United Way Day of Caring. Courtesy photo
Volunteers posed for a group shot at the Day of Caring rally last year at Appalachian Power Park. Friday is the deadline for sign-ups for the 2017 event, scheduled for Sept. 20 in Kanawha, Putnam, Boone, Clay and Logan counties. Courtesy photo
Hudnall

The 12th annual United Way of Central West Virginia Day of Caring takes place next month, and many hands are needed to ensure its continued success.

Volunteers will gather throughout the region from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, to give back to their communities through their collective magnanimity and “sweat equity.”

The one-day event enables individuals and businesses to perform hands-on service projects with nonprofit agencies in the area. Following a kick-off rally at the outset of the day, teams will undertake volunteer tasks such as painting, cleaning, landscaping, gardening and mentoring youths.

Sign-ups for volunteers are ongoing through Friday, Aug. 18, at www.unitedwaycwv.org.

Volunteers can register for individual assignments or as teams to assist nonprofits with their respective projects requested to and coordinated by the United Way of Central West Virginia.

“Oftentimes people don’t know where to help or how to get started volunteering, so we consider Day of Caring a good way for people to connect with nonprofits and understand their needs. Plus, it’s a great way to meet people, help others and have fun,” United Way of Central West Virginia Day of Caring Coordinator Lisa Hudnall said.

“Last year, we had over 600 volunteers representing 50 teams from area companies, schools and organizations that donated their time to work on approximately 50 projects spread across five counties -- Boone, Clay, Kanawha, Logan and Putnam,” Hudnall said. “Our goal is to have at least that many volunteers this year or maybe more, but we can’t do that without [the public’s] help.”

Hudnall said there are 55 Day of Caring projects requested around the five-county coverage area this year. “If we fulfilled the maximum requests, we would need at least 700 people. We’re hoping to get at least 600 to meet the bare minimum,” she said.

Hudnall described some of the projects that will be undertaken next month.

“Faith in Action of the Greater Kanawha Valley helps support seniors with independent living in Kanawha and Putnam counties. This is their first year to participate with us, and we’re excited about that. There are two seniors -- each lives in their own home -- who need help to maintain their way of living. They need volunteers to repair a chain-link fence and do some mowing and mulching and weeding and just help them out with some outdoors tasks,” Hudnall said.

“Last year, another group helped a lady by building her a wheelchair ramp,” she said. “This year, the ramp needs to be stained. The rails, spindles and decks will be painted, and we’re going to put a no-slip paint on that to make it safe for her to exit her home.”

Hudnall said Day of Caring volunteers will stain the gazebo and paint a patient’s room at the Hubbard Hospice House on Curtis Price Way. Volunteers will also paint three rooms at the Samaritan Inn, which provides residence space for homeless men on Quarrier Street in Charleston, operated by the Religious Coalition for Community Renewal.

“The Metro Valley Gabriel Project provides assistance to low-income mothers and pregnant women and their families. For something a little different, volunteers are going to switch out baby and maternal clothing from summer to winter, get everything hung up and organized and ready for clothing racks for that program,” Hudnall said.

Day of Caring volunteers have also been asked to assist with the Tyler Mountain-Cross Lanes community garden, she added. “The food harvested from there during the summer goes to their food pantry program to feed those that are in need,” she explained. “They need volunteers to come in and harvest what’s left of the garden’s vegetables, clean up the beds and get everything ready for the next season.”

Volunteers will also pitch in with painting and other chores at Union Mission and the Brookside Women and Children’s Center, among others, she said.

Barbara Mallory, United Way of Central West Virginia’s Information and Referral director, said volunteers can also participate in the creation of Born Learning Trails on Sept. 20. The trails, placed in park areas such as Magic Island on Charleston’s West Side and Hurricane City Park, feature 10 signs accompanied by sidewalk art.

“It’s basically geared toward preschoolers,” Mallory said. “The signs have activities for children and caregivers. They tell children to count numbers or shapes painted on the sidewalk or play hopscotch -- all kinds of activities. It’s a fun thing for preschoolers to do.”

Volunteers will dig holes for the posts and signs. “Once those are done,” Mallory said, “volunteers will be doing all of the sidewalk painting that goes with each activity.”

United Way will provide all Born Learning Trails materials, including stencils for the sidewalk art.

Hudnall said having a high volume of volunteers remains integral to making the Day of Caring more effective. She said some businesses give their employees a day off to contribute to the cause.

“We want to send enough volunteers to these places to get the projects completed,” she said.

She added that many participants extend their volunteerism to beyond a single day.

“Usually, 25 percent of the volunteers each year have never volunteered before, and they love it and want to come back,” Hudnall said. “We’ve had quite a few volunteer teams go into a project site and make a good connection and understand what the nonprofit does. They go back throughout the year and do other service projects. They may join their board or help with fundraisers. If it’s something doing with kids, like the Boys and Girls Club, they might become menotrs. What we do in one day continues for nonprofits throughout the year.”

For additional information about Day of Caring, call 304-340-3521.


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