DeKALB – Beth Ager wants her kids to know the importance of volunteerism.
On Thursday, she sat with her son, Shawn, 11, at Hopkins Park in DeKalb preparing for the Kishwaukee United Way’s 11th annual Day of Caring kickoff event.
“Volunteering is very important,” Ager said. “I want to teach my children that life’s not all about them. It’s about other people, too.”
Day of Caring is an annual event hosted by Kishwaukee United Way that matches volunteers with nonprofit organizations for the day.
The nonprofits plan projects that can be completed in relatively short periods, such as painting, gardening, delivering meals on wheels, calling bingo and decorating placemats or posters for the senior center or family service center, which is what Ager and her son did last year for the event.
Shawn Ager said he liked art, so the volunteer event would be fun to do again. He enjoyed seeing the posters he made last year displayed in the community.
“It was cool to see our work out there,” he said.
This year was the 11th year for the event, said Dawn Littlefield, executive director of Kishwaukee United Way.
About 200 volunteers signed up, which is a pretty steady number compared to previous years. The event is an extension of United Way’s mission – to give, advocate and volunteer.
“This is a great way to get folks involved in the community. This is our most visible event around volunteerism,” Littlefield said. “It’s a way to cultivate that awareness. … So many of our agencies rely on volunteers so heavily. It’s a nice way to give back in that manner.”
Many volunteers got involved with the event through work or church groups.
Rose Stramaglia said she works at the DeKalb Public Library, and when she heard about the event, she thought it’d be a good way to get back to volunteering.
“I thought, ‘OK I’ll try it out this year,’ ” she said. “I haven’t done volunteer work in awhile, so I thought it’d be good. I have more time now since I just graduated from school.”
Anna Marie Coveny, with the DeKalb Area Women’s Center, said the organization participates in the event every year.
“We are very grateful for the assistance,” she said. “We have really grown to rely on Day of Caring.”
Volunteers at the center helped garden, bring waterlogged items out of the center’s flooded basement, and even fixed the printer.
“Most of our volunteers came with the Best Buy group,” Coveny said. “When I saw that, I thought, ‘OK, please check the computer printer.’ Sure enough, one guy got the printer going. He was even wearing his Geek Squad cap.”