DeKALB – More than 200 volunteers will have a chance to give back to DeKalb County for the ninth annual Day of Caring.
Starting Thursday, Kishwaukee United Way will have volunteers work on more than 40 projects for nonprofit agencies and businesses in the county. People who sign up for Day of Caring are matched with a business, school or charity center to work on special projects for them.
“This day allows folks to get involved in a casual way,” said Dawn Littlefield, Kishwaukee United Way executive director. “It allows them to learn about the different agencies we have in our community.”
Volunteers will be involved in projects throughout the day. Many of the projects will include outdoor work, such as spreading mulch and sand on playgrounds, gardening and other landscaping efforts, Littlefield said. Volunteers may help agencies with painting projects, cleaning vehicles, canvassing and assisting senior citizens.
Many of the volunteers who work with agencies tend to develop strong connections with them that last beyond the Day of Caring, Littlefield said.
“So often I see volunteers that come in and are scheduled for several hours but they’re so excited about the project or the agency that often times they’ll come back on their own time to finish the project,” Littlefield said.
Volunteerism is the cornerstone of Kishwaukee United Way’s work, Littlefield said. The organization has partnered with about 25 nonprofit agencies who provide child care, housing, legal counseling, medical assistance and other services. Littlefield said part of the organization’s mission is to help others benefit from understanding the nuances between agencies offering similar services.
“This day is kind of a symbol of what we do but [Kishwaukee United Way] does this all year round,” Littlefield said.
Nonprofit groups won’t be the only ones receiving a helping hand. Businesses such as Target, Best Buy and U.S. Cellular will be receiving teams of volunteers this year, she said.
Day of Caring is usually held in the fall but was moved to this summer to allow more participation from families and children. Littlefield said this year she’s hoping about 40 children participate in the event.
About 20 volunteers will help the Voluntary Action Center in Sycamore with meal deliveries and other services for Day of Caring, said Colleen Bredeson, assistant Meals on Wheels coordinator for the center. She said the recent federal funding cuts for senior meal programs have made the center’s efforts difficult.
“We wouldn’t be able to deliver the meals to the homes unless we had the volunteer base that we do,” Bredeson said.
Bredeson has been involved with Day of Caring for the past two years and said she enjoys it because she gets to meet new people. She said many of the senior citizens love seeing the children who tag along with volunteers.
“It shows you there’s all sorts of opportunities to give back to your community,” Bredeson said. “It gives you a good feeling to help another organization.