Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 13, 2011

By David Freeze
For the Salisbury Post
More than 600 volunteers will spread out across Rowan County to work on 54 job sites Thursday. The Rowan County United Way and the Day of Caring planning committee have worked since March to assess each of these sites. Every public school within the county will receive a project, as will most of the United Way agencies and other qualified recipients.
The United Way Day of Caring began in 1996 with eight projects and about 45 volunteers. Each year it has grown in stature, providing significant additions in landscaping and building projects. Most of these were not affordable otherwise. Ballfields, backstops, sidewalks, outdoor classrooms, parking areas and fitness stations are some of the completed projects.
The 2010 Day of Caring included just over 50 projects. One of those was the construction of a walking trail at Rockwell Elementary. The staff had requested the walking track to make better use of a field between the school and U.S. 52.
A similar walking track had been constructed the year before at Hurley Elementary. Students and staff at Hurley used the track for regular and measured exercise. Walking and running games are possible because of the track. Rockwell wanted the same, but with a different twist. They got a walking track dotted with fitness stations. Heavy-duty pipe and wooden monkey bars, parallel bars, pull-up bars and more were added.
The results of that Day of Caring project didn’t end there. Rockwell Elementary kicked off a Fund Run/Spring Fling on May 7. Students raised donations for the laps they walked or ran. They also brought canned goods. Donations for Rowan Helping Ministries totaled $140 and 190 canned goods.
This year’s Day of Caring will also be kind to Rockwell Elementary. Four large maples will be planted on campus, and concrete benches will be provided for the track area. Dennis Sims and the Milford Hills Baptist Men will work that project. They will also do some painting at the front of the school.
Rowan Rotary Club, Cheerwine, and Food Lion will provide breakfast for volunteers and representatives of the work sites on Thursday at 7 a.m. The J.F. Hurley YMCA provides the site for the breakfast.
Following breakfast, workers will head for work sites, where building materials and landscape supplies will be waiting. Those who finish their projects early will head to other job sites to remain until all 54 projects have been completed.
Day of Caring is the kickoff to the annual United Way Campaign. Pacesetter organizations have already started their campaigns, and all the others will begin shortly after Thursday. The campaign will continue through November.
Funding for the United Way Day of Caring comes from the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation, Inc. To volunteer, or for more information, call 704-633-1802.