Scotland County’s nonprofit organizations collectively finished more than a week’s worth of projects in one morning during United Way of Scotland County’s Day of Caring on Friday.
“This is about this sixth Day of Caring, and this is the largest by far,” said United Way board member Barbara Alexander. “Usually we average about 30 volunteers; we have 70 today, and we had just about every agency that we fund represented here.”
The 70 volunteers came from several businesses throughout the county, with a few individuals venturing out on their own to give a few hours to local charities. Volunteers spent two to three hours on agency projects, including sorting food at Church Community Services and Project Inasmuch and organizing donated items at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
“This is a day to highlight the agencies that we fund,” Alexander said. “Hopefully on your project you will learn more about what the agencies do.”
The day kicked off with a volunteer breakfast hosted by Scotland Health Care System at the hospital’s Dulin Center. The hospital, along with Service Thread and Campbell Soup, gave many of its employees the option of a day off of work to devote to the Day of Caring.
“I’m from Scotland Health Care System, and our administration allows us to donate a day of our time to working for United Way, so we really appreciate them giving us that time,” said Camille Utter. “I think the United Way of Scotland County supports so many organizations and charities that without their support, many people would not be able to afford food and medications.”
About a half a dozen volunteers came from Cumberland County to work at the J.D. and Fran Asher Animal Shelter.
“I think it’s an awesome thing that this community is doing for their pets,” said Jacqueline Brown Ramirez Martinez. “It’s a great cause - people should take a better attitude toward taking care of their dogs.”
“We wanted to do more to help dogs be adopted rather than put down - that’s like euthanizing a human for being sick almost,” added Chris Tober. “I wish people would try to do more to help animals and give them good homes and good families.” Several Scotland County residents also elected to spend their Day of Caring at the shelter, walking and bathing dogs and lining cages with newspaper.
“I work for Campbell’s Soup and we heard about the Humane Society,” said Donna Woriax. “I have a big heart for animals; I know people need help, but animals are my passion - they can’t help themselves. I thought, you know, I could at least donate some time to come out and do something.”
Scotland County Cooperative Extension and 4H also kept volunteers busy, weeding garden plots at the Wagram Community Garden in preparation for fall planting.
“This is one of our plots that doesn’t have anybody in it, so periodically we have to clean it so that it doesn’t spread weeds into the other gardens,” said Sarah Brown, community garden director. “It helps us a lot to have some volunteers out. Whenever you have a whole bunch of people working on one thing, it goes a lot quicker than if you have one or two people working on it.” Volunteers Elaine Harrison and Kanny Bright came from North Carolina Coastal Springs Girl Scouts, another United Way-supported organization, to help at the community garden.
“We’re volunteering with the United Way to give back because United Way has been a good sponsor, covering member fees so that we can go into areas that are underprivileged where children may not know about Girl Scouts, and their parents won’t have to worry about membership fees,” said Bright. “This is a small way of saying thank you. We want to be hands-on and get our hands down in the dirt, and give back to those who have given to us along the way in any way that we can.”
This most successful Day of Caring on record is the kickoff to the United Way’s 2012-2013 fund raising season. The organization expects an above average year, due to an unprecedented fund raising initiative by Campbell Soup.
“We just appreciate everybody coming out today - it’s best Day of Caring that we’ve had,” said Debbie Grant. “So far everything’s just been falling in line, and everyone’s been very supportive.”
Grant replaced Alexander earlier this year as the executive director of United Way of Scotland County.
“The first thing I wanted to do is to educate people about United Way and get people excited,” Grant said. “I thought today went really great and showed just how excited people in this community are.”