For more than 40 years, her husband took pride in the landscaping of their Franklin home.

He pruned trees, mowed the lawn and pulled weeds from around their home on Main Street.

Three years ago, Gloria Davis’ husband died of colon cancer. Since then, she hasn’t given the large, wraparound yard the care she has wanted to.

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“I just got to where I even hated looking out there,” said Davis, 70.

Earlier this month, she fell and broke her arm. Two grandchildren and a great-grandchild live with her, which made getting repairs done around her home a bit harder.

On Tuesday, volunteers with the United Way of Johnson County’s annual Day of Caring spent their day painting her porch, laying rock around her house, pruning bushes and fixing doors in her home. Without their help, she wasn’t sure how or when the work would have been done.

More than 325 volunteers fanned out across the county to 31 locations to help agencies that the United Way of Johnson County serves or residents in need. The annual Day of Caring marks the start of the year’s fundraising campaign to provide the annual operating expenses for helping organizations that serve nearly 40,000 residents each year.

United Way agencies often are understaffed and concentrated on helping clients. The Day of Caring has been about helping agencies get help with housekeeping tasks they cannot get done while simultaneously helping clients, United Way executive director Nancy Lohr Plake said.

Volunteers mopped and waxed the floor and changed fluorescent light bulbs at Gateway Services, a nonprofit agency that helps disabled clients and offers free transportation across the county.

Workers also built a shed that would allow the agency to store items they needed for their annual lemon shake-up booth at the Johnson County fair. Getting the supplies out of the building would allow more room to expand in the building in Franklin, such as adding conference rooms or classrooms for clients, said Becky Allen, transportation director.

Every dime the nonprofit spends goes toward helping clients, which precluded the agency from making the improvements on its own, she said.

“We just don’t have the budget to bring in a cleaning crew to get it done,” she said.

Most of the volunteers also commit to donating to the United Way through paycheck deductions. Getting out and helping the agencies also has been about allowing volunteers to see where their donations go, volunteers said.

Shawn Kummer spent time changing light bulbs at Gateway Services. He has volunteered during Day of Caring for two years and likes hearing the stories of help and hope that the agency shares with him, he said.

“I like to hear the stories about things that make them happy,” he said.

Wavie Sharpe spent time organizing and cleaning up files for Gateway Services. Sharpe has committed to giving money from his paycheck to help.

He began volunteering his time to find another way to give back to the agencies that have helped out friends and family.

“This is something I have missed out on,” he said. “I wanted to do something different.”

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Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2770.