Day of Caring: Workers spread good deeds around county

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Shavonne Potts
Last year when Rick Beachum volunteered his time for the United Way’s Day of Caring at Bostian Elementary, he thought to himself afterward that there had to be a better way to get the job done.
Beachum, who works at Vulcan Materials Co. in Granite Quarry, was spreading gravel for a walking trail. The only way he and the other volunteers could get the material smooth was to comb over it with a rake or other tools.
After Beachum thought about it, he created a metal- and pipe- lined spreader to even out the gravel material. He brought his invention back for this year’s Day of Caring project at Hanford Dole Elementary School.
Denise Hallett, project site manager and another Vulcan employee, said the material is actually washed screenings, which is crushed stone. It’s what is used to help make asphalt.
Beachum, along with Matthew Medlin, Darrell Troutman and Justin Upchurch, poured the washed screenings on 1,700 feet of track Thursday, making nearly half a mile walking space.
The trail encircles the school’s playfield. Troutman Trucking delivered the stone to the school on Wednesday and unloaded it onto the playfield. The volunteers actually began spreading some of the material on Wednesday and returned Thursday to complete their task.
They also filled in the school’s ball field using some of the stone. The school has a health and wellness program, which will now include the walking trail.
“We have really good guys. It’s just amazing that they can take a day and pour so much love into the community,” Hallett said.
It also helps the volunteers feel more a part of the campaign, she said.
“We enjoy every minute,” Beachum said.
This is his fourth time volunteering.
“It’s wet and we are having fun. It’s going to a good cause,” said Troutman.
He said he enjoys doing this each year.
“The United Way helps a lot of people out,” he said.
The men agreed it’s always nice to have the children thank them for their hard work.
This is the longest track the group has worked on and used 230 tons or more than $4,000 worth of product. Over time, the stone will be more packed into the ground.
The staff at Partners in Learning had a dream of creating a musical garden on their site. On Thursday, a group of volunteers from Citizens South Bank and the Salisbury Post did just that.
Brian Miller with Citizens South has volunteered every year since the inception of the Day of Caring program.
“It’s a good opportunity to meet people you may not have met, you get out of the office and it always feels good when you are able to do something good,” he said.
What he enjoys most about volunteering is driving to the locations of former projects to see how the site looks afterward.
“Some 500 people volunteer for Day of Caring and that sums it up. It’s a day to do something for somebody else,” Miller said.
This is the second year of volunteering for Tiffany Phifer. She also works at Citizens South.
“It’s all about giving back to the community,” Phifer said.
Phifer grew up in Salisbury and got to volunteer last year at her former school, West Rowan Middle.
She returned to volunteer this year “because I get the fulfillment of knowing we are doing something for our youth,” she said.
This year was the first time volunteering for Salisbury Post employees Charla Jordan and Sarah Hall.
Jordan said she knew she wanted to volunteer and when she heard the project would be at the daycare where her daughter, Reagan, goes, “It was icing on the cake.”
She takes pride in knowing one day her child, who is 8-months old now, will play on the playground equipment that she helped make possible.
This project sounded appealing to Hall, who is a former music teacher.
“It seemed like this year was calling to me,” she said.
The group made chimes out of metal piping, barrels that doubled as drums and a wooden xylophone.
Executive Director Norma Honeycutt said the center never had the financial means to fulfill the dream of a musical garden.
“We also have not had the right people to get it done,” she said.
Honeycutt said some of the children with special needs don’t get to do much outdoors, but the music garden will be perfect.
“It’s an exciting day,” she said. “It’s even more exciting because a lot of our parents are here to help,” Honeycutt said.
Honeycutt came up with the idea for a music garden by visiting sites that had them. The nearest one she found was on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s child development center.
She said many day-care centers are leaning toward a more natural playground environment. Project Coordinator David Freeze was instrumental, Honeycutt said.
“He took our dream and brought it to life,” she said.
The day-care center is a nonprofit facility on the campus of Catawba College.
Volunteers worked at 54 sites Thursday during the annual Day of Caring event.