The United Way of Indian River County joined forces with more than 1,000 volunteers last Saturday morning at the annual Day of Caring, raising awareness about the needs of the community while completing more than 70 projects for fellow residents in need of a helping hand. The hands-on work they accomplished will continue to have a positive impact long after the last nail was hammered and paintbrushes were put away.
The morning kicked off with a breakfast at the Freshman Learning Center, where Marine Bank and Trust President/CEO Bill Penney announced on behalf of his fellow Team Marine co-chairs that the 2017-2018 campaign fundraising goal is $3,040,000.
“This is without a doubt the largest Day of Caring that we’ve ever had,” said Michael Kint, United Way of IRC CEO, as workers left to complete their tasks.
The school district stepped up their involvement this year, with School Superintendent Mark Rendell and school board member Tiffany Justice organizing more than 300 students, parents and district employees to take part.
“I love that the kids are involved. It starts when you’re young and you watch your parents and friends who are involved in the community and you see the impact you can make,” said Katie Kirk, Day of Caring committee chair.
Teams headed out to erect and repair mailboxes, paint, number houses and assist with yard work at locations around the county. Some students completed projects at individual elementary schools and a group of about 70 students put together 1,000 care kits for the homeless, which local law enforcement officers hand out when they encounter folks living on the streets.
Joe Idelette made his way up and down several streets in the Gifford community with a team of volunteers numbering houses and mailboxes on nearly 20 homes, noting, “One lady was sick and she said when the emergency people came to pick her up they passed her home because she didn’t have any numbers on the house.”
A few streets away, 15-year-old Vero Beach High School student Alicia Maneiro helped make repairs on the Old Macedonia Church.
“This is my community and I love this church,” she said. “It’s more than 100 years old. When people come out and help it shows me that people actually care. Everybody comes together and tries to help people in need no matter their nationality.”
“What I love about Day of Caring is that you get to see a whole bunch of different people from different places in the community coming together and working on different projects,” said Kirk, summing up the unity of everyone working for the common good.
Photos by: Gordon Radford