Annual Day of Caring unites BYU community

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From left: Jeff Peery, head of PR for the BYU College of Nursing, Kim Helm, executive assistant of the Dean for the BYU College of Nursing, Patricia Ravert, Dean for the BYU College of Nursing. The three were helping create educational games for early childhood education company, Mountainland Headstart on BYU campus. (Brittany Salinas)

Around 100 BYU faculty and volunteers gathered in the Harman Building for the 20th annual United Way Day of Caring on Sept. 13.

The United Way of Utah County’s annual Day of Caring brings together more than 30 local companies and organizations to participate in meaningful service projects across Utah Valley. One of the service projects, held on BYU campus, had volunteers craft fun learning activities for local families with children who are three to four years old.

The average child in a working-class family hears roughly 30 million fewer words by age three than their more affluent peers, according to a study conducted by the American Federation of Teachers.

The educational games compiled from the service activity will be distributed by early childhood education company Mountainland Headstart in an effort to encourage school readiness and development among Utah County families.

Volunteers received “Live United” T-shirts and were asked to put together learning activities for youth in the community. (Brittany Salinas)

BYU accounting specialist Renee Wheeler said she looked forward to the activity and that she supports helping the less fortunate.

“It’s great to help provide resources in the community that people otherwise can’t afford,” Wheeler said.

Many volunteers, like Wheeler, experienced the United Way service project for the first time. Patricia Ravert, the Dean of the College of Nursing, said she has participated in United Way Day of Caring service projects for years.

“It’s such a wonderful opportunity,” she said. “This is what is giving children the best educational support in the community.”

United Way of Utah County Project Lead Shelena Shomo coordinated the service activity on BYU campus. (Brittany Salinas)

United Way service projects across the Utah County this year included repairing child-friendly facilities, creating playground games and developing reading activities for youth.

Volunteers for the different service projects across Utah County include employees and faculty of participating organizations like Nu SKin and Wavetronix, but Shelena Shamo — the project lead of the BYU on-campus service activity — said anyone is welcome to participate.

“It doesn’t matter who you are. If you are a student or just someone in the community who wants to help, feel free to join in,” she said.

To learn more about United Way of Utah and how you can help, visit their website.