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Elsie Shoaf, 82, led a small group of church volunteers in the back room of Sans Souci. They pulled donated clothes from bags, sorting them and draping them on hangers.
She was one of more than 200 volunteers spread out across Columbus on Thursday, helping local nonprofit organizations through an infusion of labor and enthusiasm, as part of the first Day of Action for the United Way of Bartholomew County.
Shoaf said members of her church, the Columbus Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were assisting across the city, but she and a few others chose Sans Souci because they wanted to help and the inside work was something they could do.
“I don’t walk well, but I can stand here and hang clothes,” Shoaf said.
“If she can do it anybody can do it,” said Karen Flint, who was drafted by Shoaf for the volunteer efforts.
In the front of the thrift store, Chris Berry, the local branch manager for Manpower, hung the newly donated clothes on the racks. She said her group of three volunteers came to Sans Souci because there was so much work that needed to be done there.
“It is great exercise; I am walking back and forth loading the racks of clothes so that all of their customers will have items to select,” Berry said. “It is a big job. It is a great way to give back to the community.”
Sheryl Adams, the executive director of Sans Souci, said the thrift store had more than 20 volunteers scheduled throughout the day, helping the store stock its winter clothing. Without the volunteer help, Adams said she didn’t know how the work ever would have been finished.
“We need volunteers daily and we have a few regular volunteers, but it would be nice to have volunteers on a daily basis,” Adams said.
Angie Huebel, director of United Way’s Volunteer Action Center, organized the day’s activities, the first of what she hopes will be an annual Day of Action, timed to coincide with the kickoff of the United Way’s annual fundraising campaign.
She said the day’s theme was “putting your money to action, putting your hands to action.”
“They don’t have to pay to have the work done, so it spreads that donated dollar,” Huebel said.
Activities across the city ranged from yard work at several locations, to deep cleaning at the Turning Point domestic violence shelter and distributing door hangers with information about United Way 211, Advocates for Children and Thrive Alliance, Huebel said.
At Foundation for Youth, a group of about 50 Cummins Inc. volunteers dug more than three feet to move years-old composted mulch from below the playground at the Boys and Girls Club onto the FFY garden.
The effort freshened the playground and helped put the gardens to bed for the year, said Nathan Larrison, director of the Boys and Girls Club. The project would have been impossible without the volunteers, he said.
“If it were a five-man crew, it would take heavy machinery,” Larrison said. “They are doing the work of backhoes. This is huge.”
Another group of Mormon volunteers worked at Eastside Community Center, painting a fence and weeding raised flower beds. Annette Kleinhenz, a member of the church group, said she recently had surgery and thought about begging off for the day, but the example of others, such as Shoaf, got her out the door.
“I had surgery a month ago and I’m not supposed to be doing anything, but how can I miss it?” she said.
“I love my community, I love my church, I love these ladies. I am going to be here. Nothing is going to get in the way.”
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