‘Day of Caring’ kicks off United Way drive

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Jen Dunn spreads mulch at the E.J. Dalton Boys and Girls Club in Beloit during United Way's Day of Caring on Wednesday. 

BELOIT — Sunshine greeted volunteers as they spent the day working with United Way Blackhawk Region's "Day of Caring" on Wednesday.

More than 500 volunteers came out to help United Way

organizations.

Sue McFarland, a Regal employee in Beloit, said this was her third year participating in the Day of Caring. This year McFarland and more than 40 other Regal employees were stationed at the Merrill Community Center to pull weeds, plant flowers, paint the community room, technology lab, kitchen and several bookshelves.

As a treat, the Diamond-Elite All Star cheerleading team and Merrill Choir performed for the volunteers. Both groups use the space for practices.

"I think it's a great way for people to see what goes on in the building," said McFarland. "You come to an empty building and you don't really get to know what goes on and the people who are enjoying the facility."

Merrill Community Center Executive Director Regina Dunkin said this year’s group was the largest that the center has had on a Day of Caring.

Across town at the E.J. Dalton Boys and Girls Club, Jen Dunn mulched the grounds.

Dunn, an employee of Kerry Group, said she's participated in Day of Caring for two years.

"I get to drive past and say 'That's my mulch,’" said Dunn.

For some, having one specified day of volunteering is helpful.

"I want to volunteer more, but I never know how. It's good to know this day is coming," Dunn said.

More than 250 Kerry Group employees volunteered throughout the city, according to Dunn.

David Wilson, unit director for the club, said the day gives people a chance to see what the Boys and Girls Club does.

"Some people come in and say they haven’t been here since their son or daughter was little," said Wilson.

Volunteers focused on outside grounds work and did some interior painting at the E.J. Dalton Boys and Girls Club.

For all their hard work, volunteers get to decorate a ceiling tile to be hung in the building.

"It lets them leave their mark," Wilson said.

For several years, volunteers from the Day of Caring have come to the club, but this year is the first time the club sent volunteers out. Wilson said the organization sent five of its part-time workers out to volunteer for the Downtown Beloit Association.

"It's a good experience for them to have," Wilson said. "It's good to get them out into the community."

United Way Blackhawk Region is seeking to raise $2.82 million in its 2015 campaign, which was officially launched Wednesday morning during a kick-off breakfast at the Eclipse Center.

More than $345,675 in corporate contributions already has been pledged to the campaign.

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