In one of the biggest service events of the decade, United Way coordinated with over 30 companies from Payson to Lehi, creating service projects to benefit everyone from preschoolers to the elderly last Thursday. The annual United Way Day of Caring was held on Thursday, September 8.
Employees of the Harold B. Lee Library, along with a masters student and his alumni wife, worked tirelessly to repaint the United States of America at Cherry Creek Elementary in Springville.
“Being a masters student, I don’t have a lot of opportunities to do service,” said Steven Butler, a chemistry graduate student at BYU.
His wife Starla agreed, adding that having a toddler at home also makes it difficult to get out and do service in the community.
Mike Hill, a 12-year employee of the Harold B. Lee Library, has participated in the Day of Caring every year since he started at BYU. He said he looked forward to seeing the reactions of the school children to their repainted playground.
“That’s the payoff,” Hill said.
Hill got his payoff when a crowd of children gathered around the rainbow of states. He asked if they were excited and they children yelled “Yes!” at the top of their lungs. Third grade teacher Starr David said there are a lot of games her students weren’t able to play before and the new paint will make a huge difference.
More than that, David said it made an impact on the kids to see a group of adults taking time out of their day to serve.
Michaelann Bradley, one of United Way’s employees who organized the event, echoed David’s sentiment. She said not only do these kids get to benefit from the projects being done, they are inspired by the examples of grown-ups giving back to the community.
Kids weren’t the only recipients of service projects. There were also projects to clean up the yards of two elderly women, as well as beautification projects for several different centers that benefit veterans, individuals with mental illness and mothers recovering from substance abuse.
The crowning achievement of this year’s Day of Caring was the building of the All-Together Playground in Orem City Center Park. The All-Together Playground is a playground where children with disabilities can play side-by-side with other children. The playground includes special wheelchair swings and a quiet zone where children with autism can regroup.
“It’s amazing how much people can accomplish,” Bradley said.
She estimated that the Day of Caring volunteers helped at least 400 families, directly and indirectly, “and it’s all because of people coming together.”
The United Way website has plenty of ways for those who didn’t participate in the Day of Caring to get involved in serving others. Another option is to dial 211, which Bradley calls “a give help and a get help line.”
In addition to helping volunteers find service opportunities, people can also contact United Way with information on a person in need, and United Way will reach out to help them.
Update September 19: The All-Together playground will be open to the public October 4.