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Day of Caring sends volunteers into city

Josh Crittenden, of the LifeQuest group, mows the lawn at 108 N. Davison St. in Mitchell Wednesday afternoon for the United Way Day of Caring. More then 180 volunteers from 26 teams turned out for this year's event. (Chris Huber/Republic)

Taking an afternoon away from work, 180 people settled themselves in 25 different locations around Mitchell for a day of manual volunteer labor Wednesday -- the Day of Caring.

This year was the fourth for the Day of Caring, which kicks off the local United Way campaign that runs through the middle of November.

The goal for this year's campaign -- the 31st -- is $425,000. This year's goal is a lower one.

"We did that by and large because of the difficult economy," said Ryan Huber, this year's United Way chairman.

Organizations that receive money from United Way include Girls on the Run, a fitness and wellness program for preteen girls in the Mitchell area; Cornerstone Career Learning Center, an employment resource agency; LifeQuest, an agency providing assistance for those with developmental disabilities, and many other groups.

On the Day of Caring, businesses and organizations round up employees and other people for their teams and then are sent to volunteer at a location in Mitchell.

This year, LifeQuest participated for the first time, forming two volunteer teams.

"It's our way of saying 'thanks,' " said Pam Hannah, program manager at LifeQuest.

Hannah and three others did yard work for Jerry Sumner, who is confined to a wheelchair.

Hannah said the experience meant a lot to her two fellow volunteers, who receive services from LifeQuest.

"Laci and Josh, people give to them all the time, and this is an opportunity to give back and they love it," Hannah said.

Laci trimmed the lawn around the garage and Josh mowed the lawn.

"I've got grass up to my ankles," he said. He added that he was having a good time.

Sumner worked at LifeQuest about 20 years ago.

He said having the LifeQuest team do his yard work was different but appreciated.

"They did a good job," he said.

Across town at LifeQuest, 11 members of First Reformed Church removed tree branches and created a walkway in the shelter belt behind the building.

"I think the whole concept of 'pay it back' is a cool thing," said Vicky Graves, a volunteer.

The church has been trying to set up a mission trip but hasn't been able to line one up yet. Members decided to participate in the Day of Caring so they could get a taste of mission work.

"Your own community is a good place to start," Graves said. "There's so much more to do in your own community than people realize."

Terra Plamp, a volunteer with ELO Certified Public Accountants, agreed.

"I grew up in Mitchell, so it feels nice to help out local," she said.

Plamp volunteered with seven co-workers, raking and cleaning up outside of Abbott House.

One of her co-workers, Ashley Thompson, was volunteering for the first time.

Prior to volunteering, during the luncheon, Thompson wasn't sure what to expect but was looking forward to the afternoon.

"I think we're going to all make a difference," she said.