Some 150 extra set of hands fanned out around the Sarnia area to help paint walls, assemble shelves, garden and clean up as another long-standing community tradition returned after a two-year break.
The 27th Day of Caring officially launched the United Way of Sarnia-Lambton fundraising campaign when employees from 15 sponsoring companies spent time helping out at 18 sites around the community on Sept. 20.
That included helping maintain homes of seniors and completing odd jobs for non-profit agencies.
“We didn’t have it the last two years for safety reasons, not only for the volunteers but also for the seniors and the agencies,” said Dave Brown, executive director of the local United Way
More than half of the work carried out during the Day of Caring happens in the homes of seniors and individuals with disabilities.
“It’s a very at-risk population,” Brown said.
Even this year, as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have eased, the Day of Care was scaled back with about 100 fewer volunteers and efforts to schedule as much outdoor and socially distant work as possible, he said.
“Also, we understand there’s work that has to be done because we couldn’t do it for two years.”
Brown said the maintenance work completed for seniors during the Day of Caring may help them remain living in their own homes longer. It may also be work they would have struggled to afford, he said.
It can be much the same for the agencies involved because they typically have “very tight budgets,” particularly with the impact of inflation, Brown said.
The Day is Caring is also an opportunity for volunteers to “see the need in our community and to see how their contributions to the United Way are helping those in need and helping those agencies,” he said.
The annual fundraising campaign helps support 30 programs delivered by 17 agencies in Sarnia and elsewhere in Lambton County.
“It helps raise money as well, at the end of the day,” Brown said about ongoing impact the Day of Caring can have on workplace fundraising.
“People go back to work and they’ll talk about their experience,” he said.
In many cases, volunteers also maintain relationships with clients and agencies they helped during the Day of Caring, Brown said.
“I know a lot of volunteers go back on their own time to either finish a job or do something else they noticed needs doing.”
The fundraising campaign has already reached $346,500, which is 21 per cent of its $1.65-million “needs target,” Brown said.
“That’s almost identical to where we were at this time last year,” he said. “If we can keep this momentum going until the end of the year, we’ll be very happy.”