BELOIT - "Giving back to the community is the most important thing you can do."
That's how one volunteer described the United Way Blackhawk Region's Day of Caring 2018 on Wednesday which featured volunteers working on projects at nonprofits across Beloit, South Beloit, Edgerton, Janesville and Milton.
In total, 916 volunteers making up 163 teams from 34 companies took part in 117 service projects at 44 area nonprofits.
In Beloit, volunteers helped out with painting and prairie restoration at the Welty Environmental Center and volunteers painted and repaired the purple silhouettes used by Beloit Domestic Violence Survivor Center for raising awareness of domestic abuse.
In South Beloit, volunteers pitched in at the Stateline Boys and Girls Club with painting and landscaping.
At the Welty Center, Executive Director Brenda Plakans said the Day of Caring event helps nonprofits like the nature center do things they might not otherwise get finished.
"As a nonprofit, we can't always afford to bring in people to do some of the things that need to get done," Plakans said. "It's a great way to spruce up the space and it also helps create awareness because we meet people from different companies in Beloit. Sometimes we come up with synergies from those interactions."
Kerry Ingredients food scientists Chad Gray and Emily Vogelhuber spent Wednesday morning preparing the Welty Center's multipurpose space for painting in the afternoon.
Gray said it was his first Day of Caring service, while Vogelhuber said this was her second time pitching in.
"I was really excited about this one because I am really passionate about science education and I've had friends who've worked with Welty before, so I know they do really good work," Vogelhuber said. "I know that any opportunity to help out is appreciated."
Gray said having companies contribute brings Beloit non-profits and businesses together.
"Giving back to the community is something that admittedly I don't do as often as I should," Gray said. "So here was a very easy opportunity to get myself in here doing stuff. The more that companies can get involved and say we are doing this, it makes it so much easier for us to climb on board."
At the Stateline Boys and Girls Club in South Beloit, workers from Kerry Ingredients helped out with landscaping while Beloit Health System employees rolled up their sleeves and helped repaint the main lobby, homework room and upper gym.
"We are all a community. If you come to us, we see ourselves as a community hospital so we want to do our part to be out in the community for everyone," said Beloit Memorial Hospital Registered Nurse Tammy Green. "We have to give back."
Beloit Memorial Hospital ICU Nurse Michele Lemke said helping out might lead to others lending a hand.
"A lot of people don't know about it," Lemke said. "I think it's great for the United Way."
The Day of Caring was part of the United Way Blackhawk Region's community campaign kickoff.
The United Way has a goal of raising $2.6 million this year which will help fund 62 human services programs at 28 agencies in Rock County in Wisconsin and northern Winnebago County in Illinois.