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Volunteers lend hands during Day of Caring

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Volunteers spread mulch, cleaned and hosted a yard sale, saving local nonprofits hours of work.

More than 350 people fanned out across Johnson County on Thursday to help agencies that the United Way serves. The Day of Caring each year marks the start of the annual fundraising campaign for the United Way of Johnson County.

The volunteering event also allows employees who donate to the agency to see where their money goes. Some volunteers get a chance to give back after they have been helped by a United Way agency or program.


Christopher Farnsley, who works at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Climate Control, volunteered at Girls Inc. for the third year in a row, taking donations for a porch yard sale.

He had watched a United Way video about the economic assistance plan and remembered that after he was laid off from a job how he easily could have needed that assistance. That thought spurred him to volunteer.

“I had no idea how involved and big (United Way) was,” he said. “I always thought, ‘That could have been me.’”

The work by volunteers is a huge help to local nonprofits, officials said.

Mark Gavorski, an administrator at Homeview Health and Rehab in Franklin, helped spread donated mulch on Head Start’s playground.

About 50 employees of Homeview wanted to help United Way agencies on Thursday, but only a half-dozen could spare the workday, he said.

Others strung empty detergent bottles on a wire latticework, so kids could pour water and see it trickle down. Volunteers also built a garden bed, so preschool children could expand the vegetable garden they started last spring.

These tasks would have gotten done eventually but not before school started for Head Start children next week — and definitely not in one day, said Kim Russell, director of Head Start.

“Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to pull the weeds on the playground,” she said. “It was a mess before they started coming here to help.”

Head Start has been helped by volunteers for years. People have painted classrooms and organized books.

This year, Russell said, she wanted volunteers to work on projects that would directly help the children the agency serves.

“The kids don’t really care if the wall is painted; they want something to play with,” Russell said.

Volunteers at Girls Inc. saved the agency’s employees at least two days of work.

Employees answer the phone and get ready for the girls all morning and then run programming for girls in the afternoon, executive director Sonya Ware-Meguiar said.

On Thursday, volunteers hosted a yard sale as a fundraiser, helped prepare for a communitywide carnival and deep cleaned the kitchen.

“We would have to do our normal jobs and then do stuff that they are doing,” she said.

Part of the Day of Caring is to allow volunteers to see where money from their paychecks goes when they donate to the United Way, volunteers said.

Amy Schilk with Homeview Health and Rehab knew about United Way. But she said she didn’t know it served 19 agencies and helped so many people around the community until she decided to volunteer.

“I had no idea about United Way until they came to Homeview, “ she said. “I had no idea they help as many people as they do.”

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