Annual Day of Action from United Way puts 450 volunteers to work building, repairing, interacting
Every year, the United Way Day of Action brings together people from different groups to help improve the community.
“Everything was wonderful,” said Stephanie Blevins, director of Heart of Kentucky United Way, of this year’s Day of Action, held Wednesday. “It’s good for the community; It’s good for everyone.”
There were an estimated 450 volunteers who worked on improvement projects in Boyle, Garrard, Lincoln and Mercer Counties, wearing Day of Action “hero” T-shirts as they went about their work.
With the help of James Ross and Nadine Harper Stanley, third-grade students at Jennie Rogers Elementary cleaned off old newspaper racks, with a vision to turn them into little lending libraries, food pantries and more.
“It teaches them to care about others, have an outward focus and give instead of receive,” said Renee Lanigan, one of the teachers.
Some of the students, she said, may even be those who benefit from the boxes.
While they didn’t finish the boxes on Wednesday, the students will continue working on them and hopefully finish them up this fall. It will be up to the students, Lanigan said, as to what exactly the boxes are used for, but at least one will be a lending library and one will be a food pantry. One may also be used to place baby items for those who need them, or for school supplies or toys. Upon completion, they will be placed in front of the school.
A few blocks away, cleanup was under way at the Kentucky School for the Deaf.
“We do this every year,” said Stacy Sellers, a volunteer from PNC Bank, as she painted fence posts.
“It’s a way to give back to the community that supports us,” said Wanda Pinkston, also from PNC Bank.
They were also joined by clients from KyADAPT (Assisting Deaf Adults to Participate Totally), along with chaperone Evie Smith.
Project manager for the Day of Action site and campus manager for the KSD, Tracy Carroll, said the school has a list of projects to be done on campus, and this year they chose two for the Day of Action. Those were painting the fences along Second Street and painting the curbs and speed bumps around campus.
“To acquire this many hours of volunteer labor in a day is huge,” she said. Besides sprucing up campus, it helps the students to see the community taking a vested interest, she said. “It’s my favorite day of the year.”
Some volunteers helped clean locations such as the Community Arts Center, Cedar Creek Lake and the Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge; some worked with clients at the Danville Centre for Health and Rehabilitation to tie-dye shirts; some spent time with residents at other area nursing home facilities; some cleaned and worked at Camp Horsin’ Around.
“We had some traditional projects and some new projects,” Blevins said. There were even some that changed from the original plan, such as the volunteers who deviated from cleaning the exterior of a location in order to repair a drainage issue they noticed.
Some projects were well noticed, she said, such as students from Lincoln County High School who spent the morning cleaning up at the old Kings Mountain school, which is now a community center, or volunteers cleaning up at Mercer County Transformation.
“There were lots of great projects,” Blevins said. “Overall, I’m really pleased. Everything fell in line — great weather, great volunteers … It was just great.”
The morning kicked off with a breakfast for volunteers and the day ended around noon with a lunch for the workers. During the lunch, they had a moment of silence for Rhonda Oakley, who Blevins said had been a “huge supporter” of the Heart of Kentucky United Way and especially the Day of Action.
“She was the second person to sign up for this year’s Day of Action,” Blevins said. Oakley was killed in August; her death remains under investigation. “(The moment) was out of respect for her.”
Follow Kendra Peek on Twitter, @knpeek.
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