BELOIT - Hundreds of United Way volunteers took to the "fields" on Wednesday. After a breakfast program featuring a baseball theme, 895 volunteers headed out to the community to wield shovels, paint brushes and more as part of an effort to help non-profit organizations with necessary projects.
This year's United Way Annual Day of Caring featured 160 corporate teams from 43 companies, completing 100 projects at 42 local nonprofit organizations, said United Way Blackhawk Region President and CEO Mary Fanning-Penny at the breakfast.
Nonprofit organizations find United Way projects on Day of Caring to be crucial. The agency's employees don't have the manpower, resources or time to complete the projects themselves. It's not only a win for nonprofits, but volunteers also learn about the work being done by various agencies, Fanning-Penny said.
During Wednesday's morning program, volunteers were treated to a hearty breakfast, baseball movie clips and some inspiring news from United Way before setting out for work. They also heard about United Way's newly released 2017 fundraising goal of $2.5 million.
Jon Schlemmer, chairman of the United Way Board of Directors, said the goal of $2.4 million in 2016 was surpassed, with United Way raising $2.44 million. Thanks to 8,000 pledges, 60 programs benefited.
Many of the Day of Caring volunteer endeavors took special talents. For example, Corporate Contractors, Inc. (CCI) employees were helping to put together playground equipment for the Stateline Family YMCA in downtown Beloit.
Andrea Gordon and Heather Dobson, who usually work in the CCI offices, were pounding nails with hammers. "It's kind of fun to be doing something different," Gordon said.
Some of the men, including LaVell Hewlett Jr., were busy trying to put the many playground pieces together. Stateline Family YMCA Childcare Director Jamie Seils said she was grateful CCI employees who could read blueprints and do construction work were on scene to help.
Hewlett Jr., who has worked in construction on the new YMCA, said he enjoyed being able to help put some of the finishing touches on the project. It was his first time building a playground, and he said he might take a slip down the slide when the crew finished.
Across town, Ecolab employees were busy painting the interior at Merrill Community Center as well as putting down mulch and painting flower boxes.
"It's an awesome experience," said Armando Medellin, who was at Day of Caring for the first time.
To learn how you can give, advocate or volunteer, visit LiveUnitedBR.org.