As she volunteered Thursday at Pay-It-Forward House in Sycamore, Wendy Menard said it was neat to think about the many people tackling a list of projects all day throughout the community.
Those little things happening behind the scenes make the community a better place, she said.
That’s the idea behind the Kishwaukee United Way’s annual Day of Caring. Executive Director Dawn Littlefield said more than 220 volunteers signed up to take on close to 50 projects in the county, making it the biggest year ever for the service-oriented event.
Many people assumed tasks such as painting, gardening or serving meals; others made baked goods for community meals and hospice.
“It’s neat to see how people engage with the different agencies,” Littlefield said.
About 12 volunteers from the Sycamore Kiwanis Club spent a couple of hours spreading mulch around trees on the
property of the Sycamore History Museum. Bill Mitchell, chairman of the gardening committee for Engh Farm, said volunteers used garbage cans, wheelbarrows and carts to move mulch for the many trees.
“When you get five, six, 10 people, it’s amazing what you can accomplish ...” he said.
The museum is a destination on the DeKalb County Master Gardeners Garden Walk in July, said Executive Director Michelle Donahoe, so having volunteers spruce up the grounds is a big help.
“It really makes it look a lot sharper out there,” Donahoe said. “It’s one of those instant gratification things. You can really see the progression of what you do.”
Club members Juanita Mundy and Dave Leifheit said people of various ages enjoy taking part in organized events such as Day of Caring.
“I think that we need more of that kind of thing because that’s what people respond to,” Mundy said.
With the state of the economy, “everybody needs contributions,” Leifheit said.
“And we don’t have a lot of money, but we’ve got some brawn,” Mundy added.
DeKalb County Liners players spent several hours Thursday at Feed’em Soup’s First Street headquarters. They painted, sorted and folded clothes, and ripped up old tile in bathrooms to replace them with new ones.
Randi Kennedy, executive director of Feed’em Soup, said the volunteers allowed the organization to cross items off of its to-do list that had been put on the back burner.
“The little projects that we would love to get done are always pushed to the back seat, so it’s really awesome to get the help to take care of that stuff in a timely manner,” she said.
Kennedy said the two organizations may work together in the future by having Liners players serve a meal.
“We play ball, and it’s good to be able to reach out to the community and give people a hand,” said Liners player Markus Duckworth. Teammate Joey Burney said volunteering fosters bonds on the team.
At the Pay-It-Forward House, volunteers took on window washing, laundry and gardening. Jea Nae Remala, Pay-It-Forward House executive director, said Day of Caring is a good example of the community’s generosity.
The volunteer assistance “helps us stay ahead of the curve on things like that,” she said.
Volunteer Kristine Adzovic, who works at Kishwaukee College, said she enjoyed taking part in such a large, collaborative effort.
“And the more people who help, the better it’ll be,” said volunteer Paige Galick.
Adzovic said volunteers also learn more about community agencies through the event.
With fellow Castle Bank employees, Menard tended the garden in the backyard of the house. They removed overgrowth from one flower bed.
“This is part of what being in a community is all about,” Menard said.