By Nikki Velarde, The Belton Journal
The United Way of Central Texas kicked off their 14th annual Day of Caring on Friday morning with breakfast and a welcome gathering at the Hilton Garden Inn in Temple. UWCT’s Day of Caring is a strategic volunteer program created to help advance the common good on issues of education, income, and health. It is more than just a day of service and volunteering, it’s an influential launch for ongoing volunteer engagement opportunities.
According to their website, “Day of Caring is a powerful way for UWCT to join forces and create action in Central Texas. It is a day that underscores how essential volunteers are to making a difference in our community and provides an excellent platform to invite new volunteers into our work, while giving a meaningful way for existing supporters to stay connected to our mission. Day of Caring is an opportunity to invite individuals into our work of mobilizing the caring power of the community.”
“The United Way, when it comes down to it, it’s all about everyone in the community working together, mobilizing our resources, pooling our resources, whether those are volunteer hours, monetary contributions, or skills, to work together and address the needs of our community,” explained James Thurston, UWCT Executive Director. “Everything that we are doing is having a positive impact on our community and I think there is no greater testament to that than what we see with this large group of folks here that are going to go out and do some wonderful work today.”
“Giving is important,” commented Eyal Kaczur, UWCT’s 2015 Campaign Chairman. “It makes us feel good, there’s research out there that says it makes us live longer. Writing a check is wonderful, but this is personal. What you’re doing today is not only going to make an impact on at least one person, but I guarantee it’s going to make an impact on many.”
Last year UWCT had over 200 volunteers participate in the Day of Caring, this year they had their largest group with over 400 volunteers helping at nearly 15 different sites. “This is amazing, we had such a huge pour-in last minute and I was overwhelmed with the amount of people that came out to this today and the work that we are going to do,” said Mary Beth Kelton, UWCT’s Director of Marketing and Volunteerism. “The agencies that you will be going to are just overjoyed with the work that you all are going to be helping out with today, and they so appreciate you being here.”
“We really appreciate you and this wouldn’t get done without your help,” Kelton added. “You are helping provide the labor that the sites need, which is just a huge amount of work that is being given back to the community.” Various projects that the volunteers were working on during the Day of Caring included building sandboxes, brush cleanup, landscaping, painting, graffiti cleanup, and many other various tasks.
“Days like today are absolutely the number one reason why I feel very lucky to be doing what I do,” Thurston added. “To see the entire community coming out together and working together to improve the place that we live in and to help make it an even better place. It’s all about a commitment to our community and an investment to our community and working together to make it a better place to live, which is really what United Way is all about.”
Local businesses who participated in the Day of Caring included Acer, Atmos Energy, City of Belton, City of Temple, Don Ringler, Extraco Bank, HEB Plus Belton, HEB 31st Street, JC Penny, Johnson Brother’s Ford, Materials Transportation Corporation, McLane Group, McLennan Community College Radiology Class, PDI, PPG, Temple College, Texas A&M University Central Texas, Temple ISD, Student United Way UMHB and Wilsonart International. The Hilton Garden Inn also provided breakfast, as well as their venue for the opening of the event and even premade hygiene kits for at risk children to be delivered to SBMS later that day.
“I’m so proud to be a part of this great organization and what it has become in Temple, Belton, and Salado,” said UWCT Board President Bill DiGaetano. Kaczur added a special thanks “for all of your efforts, whether they are financial, personal, or just giving us some insight on how we can better serve Central Texas.”