Annual ‘Day of Caring’ unites community through service

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Volunteers fix a home during the 2016 Day of Caring. Volunteers will complete yard work projects and give service in other ways during this year’s event. (Julie Hatchett)

Each year United Way organizes one of the largest one-day community service events, known as the Day of Caring. This year’s event, the 22nd Day of Caring in Utah County, is being held on Sept. 14.

United Way partners with many businesses, including BYU, to help volunteers complete projects to benefit members of the community.

“Businesses don’t often get pulled into the equation when you’re thinking about making a difference in the community” said United Way Marketing and Communications Manager Michaelann Bradley.

Volunteers work at a park during the 2016 Day of Caring. Over 300 BYU employees are expected to join more than 1,200 volunteers from around Utah County at this year’s event. (Julie Hatchett)

According to its website, United Way has three main focuses for community projects: education, income and health.

Bradley said the United Way Day of Caring gives businesses and employees a chance to take some time away from work and spend it building the community up instead.

According to BYU United Way representative Julie Hatchett, over 300 employees from BYU will volunteer at this year’s event. They will join between 1,200 and 1,800 volunteers from around Utah County, Bradley said.

Each year BYU participates in a new project for the Day of Caring. Last year it was an on-campus project compiling educational games. This project is happening again this year to accommodate people who are not able to spend the entire morning volunteering, but other projects will also be happening around the community.

A new project this year partners with Hoofbeats to Healing and involves helping children with disabilities through equestrian therapy.

Volunteers teach students at an elementary school for the 2016 Day of Caring. Volunteers will read with students at elementary schools around Utah County during this year’s event. (Julie Hatchett)

Volunteers will be able to pick between dozens of projects around Utah County. Many of the volunteers will help at elementary schools in the area by reading with students who are struggling and painting educational games on the playground blacktop.

Bradley said one in five third graders in Utah County are not reading at grade level, and the kids enjoy having adults help them learn.

Other projects include landscaping and yard work at local parks and at homes of people who are not able to take care of it themselves.

Bradley said they hope the Day of Caring will be a gateway event and that volunteers will want to continue to help children throughout the year.

Last year, Hatchett helped with maintenance and yard work at the home of an elderly person in the community. Hatchett said she was touched by how grateful the individuals were when people came to help them do what they couldn’t do for themselves anymore.

After the other projects are done, Random Acts — a BYUtv reality show centered on service — is doing a project in the afternoon to improve the playground at Lakeview Elementary School in Provo.

BYUtv Marketing Manager Stevi Ginolfi said in an email the event is open to the public to come serve and meet some of the hosts of Random Acts.

“I would encourage everyone to make a few hours in their day to go brighten the world around a participant or an agency that really does need the help,” Hatchett said.

Sign-ups for the event can be found online.