Bartholomew County was covered in red on the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

From the town square in Hope to downtown Columbus, city streets on Friday were flooded with more than 1,000 volunteers for United Way of Bartholomew County’s second Sept. 11 Day of Service, each in a red “Live United” T-shirt.

The shirt’s slogan took on a special meaning Friday, as volunteers came together to work in the midst of the city’s memorial of the attacks.

“This was something so tragic, so it’s good to do something that’s all about the positive,” said Abbie Bush, a United Way board member who volunteered at Smith Elementary School.

Story continues below gallery

From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., community members from Columbus Regional Health, Toyota, Cummins Inc. and other businesses and local organizations volunteered for home improvement, landscaping and maintenance projects at organizations and homes across the county.

Last year’s Day of Service was devoted to specifically helping local nonprofit organizations, but this year’s event was widened to residents who needed a little help in sprucing up.

“It’s good because the people who requested the help are getting the help,” said Mike Schubel, another board member who volunteered at Smith.

This year’s need was as varied as the volunteers.

At Children Inc. on McClure Road, Columbus Regional Health volunteers completed interior maintenance projects, which meant scrubbing cabinets, mopping floors and painting walls.

At Smith Elementary, United Way board members took on an outdoor project as they worked to renovate the school’s courtyard, which had been left largely unattended.

The Day of Service even asked for volunteers to donate blood, a task thousands of people chose to complete in the days immediately following Sept. 11, 2001.

But regardless of what task they took on, volunteers said they were pleased to be a part of an event that served some of the community’s greatest — but often overlooked — needs.

“It’s the satisfaction of knowing you’ve helped people who don’t have the ability to help themselves,” said Leigh Burchyett, a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices employee who helped paint a mobile home in the Candlelight Mobile Home Park.

Friday also served as the official kickoff for the United Way campaign, which raises money for the organization.

Volunteers could purchase lunch from Amazing Joe’s restaurant, with all proceeds going toward the campaign.

In addition to offering their time, volunteers said they understand it’s important to support United Way in other ways on a regular basis because the needs in the community are constant.

“People need help every day of the year,” Burchyett said.

Beyond supporting local organizations, making donations and coming together as a community, volunteers said they enjoy helping with the Day of Service for one simple, personal reason — the satisfaction of serving others just feels good.

“You get to look back and see that you’ve accomplished something and see how you’ve helped people,” said Tom Sonderman, a CRH volunteer who worked at Children Inc.

At a glance

United Way of Bartholomew County 2015 9/11 Day of Service

  • More than 1,000 volunteers
  • 71 project sites
  • 36 organizations assisted
Author photo
Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at or 812-379-5712.