Volunteers share the load
Day of Caring kicks off United Way campaign
They'd normally be crunching numbers, wading through paperwork or helping customers.
But Friday, they put aside their office attire and spent the day doing something quite different: painting houses for the elderly, clearing ivy from trails and filling bags of groceries for low-income residents.
Friday was the 13th annual Day of Caring. About 400 volunteers fanned out around the county to help nonprofit groups and everyday citizens do the kind of work they couldn't do themselves because they lack the staff or physical ability.
The work wasn't necessarily difficult for the volunteers, but most said it was labor intensive and a little messy. More than one were spotted wandering around with soil on their faces.
"A shower is in order," Lisa Daniels said with a smile as she stooped over to pick weeds at Garden Raised Bounty on Olympia's west side. Daniels works at Twin County Credit Union.
The Day of Caring was the kickoff event for United Way of Thurston County's 2005 fundraising campaign. The agency hopes to raise $1.2 million -- a 4 percent increase over last year -- to distribute among nonprofit groups, said Pam Toal, executive director.
Last year's donations are helping nonprofit groups give aid to locals in need as well as to survivors of Hurricane Katrina who are evacuating to this county, Toal said. About a third of the agencies they serve are helping evacuees, she said.
At the Thurston County Food Bank, volunteers sorted donated goods and assembled bags of food. Some of the work, such as cleaning rooms where food is stored, is hard for the food bank's regular volunteers to do because most are seniors who lack the physical ability to do heavy lifting, said Robert Coit, food bank director.
That's where Raymundo Tiangco came in.
"It's a good feeling and it's worth it for me," said Tiangco, who usually answers questions at Intercity Transit's customer service center but was cleaning a storage room Friday. "I've learned more about the food bank from being here."
At GruB, which teaches low-income youths and seniors how to turn dirt and seeds into food and gives vegetables to the low- income, 18 volunteers from the Twin County Credit Union and the Association of Washington School Principals helped prepare fields for the fall.
Usually it's their youth volunteers who help out, but September is when they're getting settled at school.
"The school calendar doesn't quite match up with the agricultural calendar," said Emily Dietzman, garden manager. "There's a lot of work, but not a lot of bodies to do it."
Annalee Braley didn't mind the work, even in the drizzle.
"It's nothing like what we do for a living at work," said Braley, who works at the school principals association. "But just volunteering to be involved is rewarding."
Volunteers had these tips to offer for those interested in participating next year:
"Dress for any weather. Dress in layers," Daniels said.
"Bring several pairs of gloves and wear clothes you do not care about," said Janey Strong, a purchasing agent for Twin County Credit Union. "Do not get a manicure or pedicure the night before."
Rhodetta Seward, executive services administrator at Intercity Transit, was laughing with a colleague as she pressure-washed crates at the food bank despite being soaking wet.
"Make the most of your day," she said. "It's all about attitude."