United Way of Bartholomew County put out a call for volunteers for its annual Day of Service, and the community has responded in a big way.
The organization will need about 500 adult community volunteers for the Sept. 11 event and is close to reaching that goal, said Joy King, community volunteer coordinator for United Way.
United Way also is getting a boost from 800 children in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.’s before- and after-school i-CARE program, who will participate in the Day of Service.
King said United Way was approached by i-CARE director Kate Garrity, who suggested having the program’s children volunteer.
“One of our goals is to connect the community through voluntarism,” King said, “and the idea of being able to include the children in that is very exciting to us.”
The program is an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of community service to children at an early age, Garrity said.
“We are trying to incorporate service projects into our after-school programs in our curriculum, and we thought the Day of Service was a great way to do that,” Garrity said.
“In some of our schools that have the highest poverty rate, the kids often receive the support, but they don’t have the opportunity to help someone else out. So this shows them that they can do that, too.”
Family Service Inc. has volunteer opportunities that are appropriate for the children in the i-CARE program, who range from prekindergarten to middle-school age.
Opportunities include placing inserts in ABC Books in support of the Caring Parents program and making folders and putting together parent packets for the organization’s Healthy Family and Child Abuse programs.
Some children also will assist with the Bartholomew County School Supply program, which distributes backpacks at the beginning of the school year but is a year-round effort.
“With those programs, we will have enough work to keep 800 children busy — not for the full four hours, like the adult participants — but for about an hour, and that’s plenty of time,” King said.
“It might be a little longer for some of the older students.”
The i-CARE students will participate after school at the 14 prekindergarten, elementary and middle school sites in the program.
The National Day of Service and Remembrance is an opportunity for volunteers to assist with projects in their local community that benefit nonprofits and other community organizations.
Last year, about 250 people participated in the event.
King credits an aggressive email campaign with helping the group reach its participation goal.
Eric Jarrett of Reams Asset Management said the company got involved because one of its directors received the email and forwarded it to employees to encourage participation.
Jarrett and Jake Paris will participate in maintenance of the Jonathan Moore Pike People Trail in the
morning and the setup for the Columbus Scottish Festival in the afternoon.
“We are both recent college graduates who just started with Reams in the last year, so this was our first opportunity to participate, and we jumped at it,” Jarrett said.
Jennifer Rutan of Blue and Co. accountants said about half of the 13 people in the local branch office are participating in projects.
One group will help with interior cleaning and landscaping at Life Design group homes, and another will do deep cleaning of the Turning Point Domestic Violence Services shelter house.
“Those were places where they needed the most help,” Rutan said. “We plan to make this an annual event.”