Day of Caring provides service work for Rowan County

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 23, 2015

The residents of Rowan County got to hear the sweet sounds of sawing, drilling and the pounding of hammers on Thursday, all in the name of community service.

The Rowan United Way held its annual Day of Caring event for different schools and nonprofit organizations across Rowan County.

Schools and nonprofits submit applications for projects they want completed at their sites that only take one day for local volunteers to finish.

This year, there were 44 different projects, 28 of those at local schools. There were about 550 volunteers from different Rowan county companies and organizations.

The different projects include landscaping, beautification and building structures the sites can use at their facilities.

Denise Hallett, chairwoman of the Day of Caring site assessment committee, said the United Way was able to leverage the funding they received with donated products, in-kind product donations and reduced prices on items. She said all of that plus the free work of the volunteers probably had hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of value.

Hallett said the Day of Caring is special for the volunteers because they get to physically help the community.

“This is a day where our companies allow (employees) to actually be a visible sign of caring to the community,” Hallett said.

One Day of Caring project site was Rockwell Elementary School, where volunteers from St. Peter’s Lutheran Church built the school a wheelchair ramp.

According to Principal Laura Bardill, the school had to get rid of the wheelchair ramp in the front of the school when they decided to close the breezeway between the two buildings.

There is a ramp at the back of the school, but Bardill said it left people with a bad impression of the school.

“We could continue to use that down there but it’s just not a good way to present your school,” she said.

Because of help from the United Way, the school was able to get a ramp built, something Bardill is thankful for.

“If we had to wait for a project like this, it would take much longer,” she said.

Alan King, head volunteer for the project at Rockwell, said the men of his church were looking for local mission service projects, and the United Way provides the perfect opportunity.

“We like being able to reach out and help others,” King said. “Instead of being a self-serving church, we wanted to provide service to others.”

“It’s giving back to the community we love and serve,” said Matt Lowman, captain for Salisbury Fire Station 3. He and other Salisbury firefighters built an old tire playground for kids at the Partners in Learning Child Development and Family Resource Center.

Lowman said the tires were old ones from fire trucks, police cars and city utility trucks.

“Here at the fire department, we are community servants,” Firefighter Wesley Jackson said. “That’s what we do, so anytime we can come out here and help somebody, whether you call 911 or you call and say you need help, we’ll always be more than happy to lend a hand.”

Employees from AkzoNobel feel the same way. They built wooden planter structures with canopies overhead for the students at Carroll T. Overton Elementary School. The students will be able to sit within the planters to read or study.

At Overton and Rockwell Elementary, the students were able to come out and yell a big thank you to the volunteers. Jeffrey Burrough, head volunteer at Overton, said that is what makes all of the work worth it.

“When they’re happy to see that you’re doing something, building something for them, they’re always nice and telling you thank you for doing the work for them,” Burrough said. “For me, that’s what means a lot.”

Some of the major sponsors and donors of the event included the Blanche and Julian-Robertson Foundation, Cheerwine, Shaver Wood Products, Chandler Concrete and Building Supply, Godley’s Garden Center, Vulcan Materials Company, the YMCA, Rowan Rotary and PPG Paints.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.