'Day of Caring' draws hundreds of volunteers in 16th year
Red-shirted volunteers flocked to parks, food banks, schools and community centers in droves, ready to lend a helping hand.
Friday was the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s 16th annual Day of Caring. More than 700 volunteers — 100 more than last year — helped with 70 projects in Westmoreland, Fayette and Armstrong counties.
“Having this one big showing of volunteer service really gets people excited, it gets the momentum going,” said Jackie Johns, a spokeswoman for United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania. “It does a lot to spread the message of the power of volunteerism. You have all these folks out at different projects across this three-county area, other people see us in our bright red shirts and our Day of Caring signs.”
Dolores Marcheleta, 82, of Greensburg, said she was shocked when a group of volunteers came to do yardwork at her home.
“It wasn’t just one or two, I think there were 8 or 9 people here, and it was fantastic,” she said. “I’d like to say just thank you, to all of these people. I can’t believe what they did.”
Most of the volunteer groups were corporate teams.
About 25 Elliott Company employees spent the day at Jeannette McKee Elementary/Middle School, spreading mulch at the playground and painting classrooms.
Elliott employee campaign chair Tyson Kennedy said it’s a way to give back to the company’s home community.
“A lot of these kids have family members who work at Elliott, or have worked at Elliott,” he said.
Teams from S&T Bank and Achieva took on the day’s biggest project — cleaning, weeding and generally tidying up the Laurelville Retreat Center in Mt. Pleasant Township in preparation for its 75th anniversary.
Events like the Day of Caring take advantage of strength in numbers, said S&T Executive Vice President LeDawn Yesho.
“Individually we can all do things, and everyone does. But when you bring everyone together, the impact and certainly the team camaraderie makes it a special day,” she said.
It’s been encouraging to see the event grow over the years, said Mary Pflugh, who co-chaired the United Way annual fundraising efforts with her husband, Nick.
“I don’t want to say it’s easy for people to write a check, but giving your time is sometimes… harder,” she said.
That’s not to say writing a check is frowned on. The Day of Caring also is a big moment for the United Way’s fundraising efforts. The organization hopes to raise $3.7 million this year.
Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, email@example.com or via Twitter @Soolseem.