Local volunteers join Day of Caring project to care about Juneau

150 people team up with 17 nonprofits

Posted: Sunday, October 09, 2005

Local volunteers were generous enough to spend two days this week to show how much they care about the community.

Around 150 people from as many as 20 local businesses teamed up with 17 area nonprofit organizations this week for the annual Day of Caring, sponsored by the United Way of Southeast Alaska. Most of the volunteers spread out across the community on Thursday, executing various projects while a group of University of Alaska Southeast students gave up the chance to sleep in on Saturday morning to help make the community a better place to live.

"There was just a ton of work that got done," said Kristin Mahle, campaign director for United Way of Southeast Alaska.

Mahle said most volunteers spent four to six hours on the various service projects, with possibly 1,000 hours of work or more being done on behalf of the nonprofit organizations.

A mural of a jungle scene was painted in the youth activities room at St. Vincent De Paul, dorm rooms received a fresh coat of paint at the Glory Hole, and hundreds of pounds of food were donated to the Southeast Alaska Food Bank, to name several of the projects.

"It's cool to see the big picture from my angle, because between Thursday and (Saturday) there was so much work that got done," Mahle said.

UAS students spent Saturday morning collecting nonperishable items for the food bank, helping out Southeast Alaska Guidance Association and painting and shampooing carpets at the Big Brothers Big Sisters office. The students volunteered over the weekend so their volunteer work wouldn't conflict with schoolwork.

"I think just to be able to get out there and help those that need it is an amazing experience," sophomore Zori Wallace-Keck said.

She said giving up a Saturday morning for the Day of Caring demonstrates that college students are an important element of the community.

"Because we chose to come out here, it shows how much we do care about the community and making things better," Wallace-Keck said.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Executive Director Marc Wheeler said the organization has wanted to brighten up its office for a long time and it finally had the chance to on Saturday with white and yellow paint. He said Big Brothers Big Sisters would not have been able to have the work done if it were not for the volunteers.

"It's tremendous," he said. "It's a good chance to get some basic things done and give a fresh look to our office."

Wheeler said the spirit of volunteerism could have a ripple effect throughout the community.

"Days like this is a good chance for somebody to try something out and get involved with an agency and maybe after that stay involved as a volunteer," he said.

Forest Kvasnikoff, a sophomore at UAS, said part of being human is helping someone without being concerned about any material benefits.

"More people need to volunteer," he said. "Not only would it help benefit different groups throughout Juneau, but it would help benefit us as a community to actually get to know one another rather than sitting in front of our televisions."

Mahle said businesses were partnered with nonprofit organizations for optimal success.

"All of the agencies were just so pleased with all the work they got done, and I think the businesses were just amazed, too," she said.

With this year's events finished, the United Way is already thinking about the many possibilities for next year, Mahle said.

"We're wanting next year to be bigger and more people to be involved and get lots more projects done," she said.

• Eric Morrison can be reached at eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.

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