Reader-submitted content: United Way’s Day of Caring teams helped three organizations

Sara Newell

On April 16 United Way of Eastern New Mexico held their annual Day of Caring. Each year the Day of Caring challenges our community to come together for a day of service to help enhance the cities we live in.

In previous years, United Way has taken on projects like rebuilding the Portales Dream Center (A project that took nearly six months to complete), and building a new playground for the families living at the Grand Avenue Apartments in Clovis.

Each of these singular projects has touched the lives of hundreds of families in Curry and Roosevelt County. The 2011 Day of Caring project was no exception.

Together with United Way employees, nearly 40 volunteers and staff members and coordinators from Matt 25, Gabriel’s Garden and the Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico we were able to make a big impact on Curry County.

“We wanted to restructure Day of Caring this year,” said United Way Executive Director Erinn Burch, “to show the community that small groups of five to 10 people can work on three projects for one day and make a difference.”

United Way of Eastern New Mexico arranged for teams of volunteers in addition to several independent teams to spend the morning cleaning, clearing, building, painting, sorting and planting to help the community.

The Day of Caring kicked off with a breakfast after which each team split up and headed to their work site to:

1. Construct six new shelving units for the new refrigerator/freezer

2. Reconstruct, refurbish and paint six pallet stack racks

3. Build supports for four complete pallet stack racks that are now ready to paint and put into use.

4. Sorted and stored donated office supplies.

5. Various kitchen supplies sorted and stored.

6. Repacked 2,164 1-lb. bags from bulk pinto beans for distribution.

7. Repacked 125 1-lb. bags from flake coconut for distribution.

8. Pulled inventory for prep of 18 pallets of commodity food for distribution.

“The Day of Caring was great,” said volunteer Scott Knauer, who brought his family to help with the projects at the Food Bank. “We really enjoyed getting to know about the Food Bank and the great staff they have there. We’ll definitely be back next year.”

The Matt 25 Hope Center also got a team from Day of Caring. Their projects included:

1. Cleaning the third-floor storage area.

2. Relocating stored office supplies (i.e. chairs, desks, storage containers, etc.) from second-floor temporary storage to third-floor, long-term storage.

3. Reorganizing seasonal decorations.

“The cleaning of the third floor really does a lot to enable us to help a lot of agencies with office furniture as opposed to everything being jammed in a few room,” said Matt 25 Director Steve Reshetar. “I can’t tell you what a difference that will make throughout the year. It was just wonderful seeing so much activity going on and knowing how much all this would help us meet the needs in the days ahead.”

The final team was able to help complete the city plot for Gabriel’s Garden, which is located in the back lot of the Matt 25 Hope Center. This city plot will grow and provide fresh produce to families and agencies in need in the city of Clovis in addition to a safe outdoor recreational area for Clovis families.

The Day of Caring team was able to complete the garden plot and plant peas, peppers, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, green beans, spinach and lettuce.

Sara Newell is a campaign and communication associate for United Way of Eastern New Mexico.