On Friday and Saturday afternoons the United Way sent their volunteers to participate in 29 projects throughout the community. The projects ranged from painting and cleaning up the zoo, to helping out at the Good Samaritan Inn, to giving parking directions at a local soccer tournament.
Impressed, but not surprised with the large turnout, Director of Community Impact James Keith said the Day of Action is important to bring attention to all the programs the United Way supports, “It’s not just your traditional volunteer work at a shelter, we really support several agencies and organizations that that have a wealth of opportunities for anyone to volunteer at any time.”Keith spent the early part of his Friday afternoon helping out at Scovill Zoo.
Of the nearly 600 volunteers, over 400 of them were Millikin University freshman who were going through their first week ‘welcome’ routine. “It’s important to connect with the Millikin students because many of them are freshman who aren’t from the area and don’t really have any idea the amount of opportunity is in their community,” Keith said. “The students call it the ‘milli-bubble’ and it’s basically the 3 or 4 blocks surrounding the campus that some students never seem to leave, so yeah, it’s important to get them out and get them into the community.”
Keith said they also use the Day of Action to bring awareness to the United Way itself and said it’s a way for them to gain volunteers for not only one day, as many of them come back throughout their time here and help out, “We have quite a few people who come out at the Day of Action to kind of test the waters and see what’s out there. And what we find is that several of them come back throughout the year.
The Day of Action doesn’t just help out for a weekend, either. Keith said one group from Caterpillar couldn’t make it out, but requested time to help at Scovill over the next couple of weeks, “There are a group of folks from CAT that couldn’t volunteer this past weekend but they wanted to help out in the coming weeks so having the visibility at the zoo has spurred volunteers to come out and help over the next couple of weeks.”
Some of the projects the United Way and its volunteers took part in over the weekend included cleaning up at the YMCA, painting at Christ United Methodist Church, painting at Easter Seals, restoring homes with Habitat for Humanity, and volunteering at OASIS day shelter.
For a complete list of volunteer opportunities or to check out what happened at the Day of Action visit uwdecatur.org