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Mitchell United Way kicks off annual campaign with 8th Day of Caring event

The only limit to Mitchell United Way's contributions is the number of people asking for help. "Our biggest struggle seems to be that we don't have enough projects," Executive Director Dave Stevens said to volunteers who filled nearly every seat ...

Tami Haiar, left, Brooke Assmus, center, and Catie Brown, all with CHR Solutions, apply a fresh coat of paint to a fire hydrant outside of Graphic Packaging International on Wednesday afternoon as part of the annual Day of Caring in Mitchell. (Matt Gade/Republic)
Tami Haiar, left, Brooke Assmus, center, and Catie Brown, all with CHR Solutions, apply a fresh coat of paint to a fire hydrant outside of Graphic Packaging International on Wednesday afternoon as part of the annual Day of Caring in Mitchell. (Matt Gade/Republic)

The only limit to Mitchell United Way's contributions is the number of people asking for help.

"Our biggest struggle seems to be that we don't have enough projects," Executive Director Dave Stevens said to volunteers who filled nearly every seat in the Technology Center auditorium at Mitchell Technical Institute.

Mitchell United Way once again set records for its annual Day of Caring event Wednesday as 311 volunteers took on 35-plus projects to benefit the local community, Stevens said. Last year, 234 volunteers completed an estimated 29 projects.

Day of Caring is the organization's kick-off event to its nearly three-month fundraising period, which will end this year on Oct. 28.

With its "One Voice" campaign, Mitchell United Way hopes to raise $437,000 before that date. If it succeeds, the group will have reached its campaign goal for 35 consecutive years.

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The money is distributed to 28 agencies, such as the American Cross, Mitchell Area Safe House and Meals on Wheels.

"It's really wonderful to see that so many people have given up their time this afternoon to go out and help those agencies," Stevens said to the group.

Stevens said there is no limit to the number of volunteers, but Mitchell United Way does request that companies offer donations to pay for T-shirts and lunch for the Day of Caring. The event is only limited by a shortage of projects.

"It just goes to the support and the willingness of people to contribute to causes in the community," said Darren Brewster, chairman for the campaign. "When people are in need, people are willing to step up."

Christina Nath, an employee at CHR Solutions in Mitchell, volunteered for the second time. She happily requested the same project she completed last year: painting fire hydrants.

Nath and other CHR employees painted 12 fire hydrants last year, and she takes pride in her work every time she sees them.

"I always think of that when I drive by them that I made that contribution. It's a good feeling," Nath said.

Nath said it is important for local businesses to take part in events like Day of Caring.

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"We live here, too. It's not just that we work here. We live here," she said. "This is our community, and it's really fun to see a difference."

With temperatures reaching into the mid-90s, it was a warm day to paint outside, but Lynette Kreutzfeldt, director of activations for CHR, said she and her coworkers were well-equipped with water and didn't mind the heat.

"We've got the wind in our favor, and of course, with all the fun and working with the others, it's going to be fun," Kreutzfeldt said as the group painted its first hydrant at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Kittridge Street.

But before the groups left, Stevens urged all volunteers to beware of the heat and go inside, if necessary.

"I just don't want to put any of our workers out there at any kind of risk," Stevens said.

Mitchell United Way is willing to work with volunteers to complete the projects during periods of better weather, but Brewster said everyone gathering together in one space before venturing out into the community is an important piece of the campaign.

"It's fantastic. Just a great momentum builder for the campaign and to show people just how many people are willing to contribute to the community," Brewster said.

Volunteers were invited to a social event at Bankwest after the projects were finished. The results of the three-month campaign will be announced on Nov. 18 during a banquet at Highland Conference Center.

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