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Locals lend a hand for Day of Caring

United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties hosted its 29th Annual Day of Caring, which featured both virtual and physical components, on Wednesday.

Day of Caring is an event that was designed to foster service and volunteering in communities. Participants from local companies and organizations spent the day assisting area service agencies with a variety of projects. Projects ran from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There were more than 20 volunteer opportunities for this year’s Day of Caring, including dugout paint and preparation at Krepps Park, summer trail preparation at Coopers Rock State Park, spring cleanup and maintenance at the Monongalia County Child Advocacy Center, backpack packing for the backpack feeding program at Scott’s Run Settlement House and preparation for summer programming at The Shack Neighborhood House among many other activities.

More than 200 volunteers turned out to lend a hand to local agencies.

The official Day of Caring event was cancelled in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the difficulties of hosting physical events during it.

Engagement Manager Servando Arredondo said United Way was excited to bring Day of Caring back this year with a better understanding of COVID-19 and how to properly accommodate projects, agencies and volunteers.

This year, United Way took extra precautions in hosting the event, especially with businesses and agencies in the area not yet being completely open.

day of caring books
Annie Brode-Parenti organizes books with the United Way Day of Caring event at the Shack on Wednesday.

For example, Day of Caring is typically started off with an in-person event where volunteers gather to start the day. This year, the kick-off event was hosted via the Zoom webinar platform. In addition to keeping volunteers socially distanced and safe, this decision enabled volunteers to spend more time working at their project sites.

“Volunteers had the opportunity to get back out to some of their favorite agencies and had a fun-filled day of service. We also added some virtual volunteer projects this year, so people could still volunteer and be part of this amazing day,” Arredondo said.

Another United Way staff member, Director of Marketing Communications Amanda Posey, said she was taking photos at many of the project sites and felt it was heartwarming that so many individuals volunteered their time for the betterment of their community.

Travis Cadalzo helps organize books with the United Way Day of Caring event at the Shack on Wednesday.

From Operation Welcome Home and The Shack Neighborhood House to Krepps Park ballfields and Sundale, plus many more project sites, it was impressive to and overwhelming to see the Day of Caring in action, she said.

“So many area businesses and companies send out volunteers to participate, and we can’t thank them enough, especially our Day of Caring sponsor, Summit Community Bank,” Posey said.

Volunteers who wound up at The Shack Neighborhood House spent their time working on outdoor projects that the agency needed done.

Two of those volunteers, Jeremiah Jones and Nancy Spiker, are Clear Mountain Bank employees. According to Jones, Clear Mountain Bank offered employees the opportunity to have a paid day off if they chose to perform acts of service for their community.

As if that wasn’t incentive enough, Jones and Spiker are members of their bank’s culture committee. One of the values of that committee is a local community focus.

“So, we’ve come out for the day to not only do our work with the bank, but also support the United Way here in Morgantown,” Jones said.

Spiker said she and Jones arrived at The Shack Neighborhood House and told directors that they would help the agency in whatever way possible.

The volunteer group at The Shack Neighborhood House spent the day pulling weeds, painted, planted flowers and filled first aid kits, among other things.

“We just came here and told them whatever they needed done, we would do it,” Spiker said.

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