By Sarrah Peters/News Editor
On Friday, June 14, hundreds of volunteers worked on projects throughout Etowah County as part of United Way’s 22nd Annual Day of Action.
The Day of Action is a campaign where local charities and organizations sign up to get projects done and volunteers come out to work on the projects all together.
The Day of Action has significantly grown since it began to be held locally. The first year the United Way of Etowah County held the event, only about 12 volunteers participated. This year, there were over 600 volunteers, with over 2,400 volunteer hours completed.
“The thing we think is very interesting is there are a lot of United Ways much larger than we are who might get 30 or 40 volunteers,” said United Way Resource Development and Marketing Director Christi Mayo. “We are a fairly small United Way and a fairly small community to have such a large number of volunteers to participate. We call it the caring power of our community and it’s mobilizing that caring power on one day for one event.”
The volunteers worked on over 50 different projects for nonprofits and schools in the county. Some of the projects included yard work, cleaning, painting, reading to children, walking dogs at the Humane Society, packaging welcome bags for the Housing Authority, preparing and delivering meals and much more. The Gadsden City High School cheerleaders hosted a cheer camp, while the GCHS football team hosted a football camp at the Boys and Girls Club.
Southside High School’s baseball and volleyball teams hosted a camp for John Jones summer camp.
“There are a lot of youth in our area that are involved in Day of Action,” said Mayo. “When this started out, it was really just businesses that were partners of United Way. It has grown over the years to be families and groups. Now, so many have been coming out for years. It’s nice to see the new generations of children coming in with grandparents and parents and children all participating that day.”
Mayo said that the goal of the day is more than just one day of volunteering, it’s about building relationships between nonprofits and citizens.
“We want folks in our Etowah County community to know about our non-profits and our schools and what their needs are,” said Mayo. “You hope on Day of Action that they go and get a little taste of what’s going on at those agencies and schools and what their needs are and that they will be a long-time benefactor or volunteer for them. That they will build a relationship from now on.”
Volunteers began working at 8 a.m. and went to The Venue at 11:30 a.m. for a lunch sponsored by Riverview Regional Medical Center and Gadsden Regional Medical Center. Drinks were sponsored by Buffalo Rock. Other sponsors of the Day of Action include UPS, Honda, Blackstone Pub and Eatery, Max Packaging, Top O’ the River and more.
After participating, volunteers filled out cards for United Way to give feedback on the Day of Action. Many expressed how grateful they were to give back to the community.
“We played with the kittens, cats and puppies,” said Hannah Mayhall, a young volunteer who spent the day at the Humane Society. “We walked some of the dogs. Volunteering is awesome!”