News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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June 13, 2014

Hundreds take action

Volunteers paint, mulch, wash dogs around Valley

TERRE HAUTE — Elbow grease and time can make a world of difference for organizations limited on their funding and people power.

On Friday, 26 agencies in the Wabash Valley received the benefit of 225 volunteers to do projects both large and small during the United Way of the Wabash Valley’s Day of Action.

“This is very important,” said Patty Weaver, manager of the Indiana State University Community Garden as workers pushing wheelbarrows and wielding rakes and hoes worked around the large garden space along 11th Street near campus. “To have so many people knock out multiple chores in one day is great. Otherwise, it would take several weeks to do it all.”

A team from Vectren Energy was among the volunteers who were cleaning out and organizing a storage shed, spreading mulch and planting flower.

“This project for me is special because I’m a person who loves gardening. I find solace in it,” said Elvis Turnage Jr., a Vectren account manager.

The community garden has 90 gardeners and 155 plots that grow a variety of vegetables, flowers and fruits.

At the American Red Cross headquarters on South Third Street, about 20 volunteers made colorful improvements to the office of the disaster assistance agency.

Using paint donated by Sherwin Williams and tools donated by Wal-Mart on the city’s east side, folks from the Terre Haute Area Chamber of Commerce, Kellog’s, ISU and WTWO were painting walls, moulding and giving the office spaces a fresh clean look.

“This is huge,” said Red Cross director Nikki Wessley. “One of the first things I wanted to do here was get a fresh look for the office.”

Kristin Craig, director of operations and communications for the Chamber, said that many not-for-profit groups are challenged to have the manpower to do improvement projects.

“We’re just happy to get out and help some of our members take care of their own projects,” Craig said.

At the animal shelter of the Parke-Vermillion Humane Society, activity was rampant as walls and floors were cleaned and painted, new animal crates assembled, landscaping and flower beds were improved, and the animals played with new visitors.

“Having this one day a year helps to get the work done,” board president Mark Southwick said as a crew emptied and sorted donations in a shed built a few years ago by high school students. “It’s supposed to be a half day of service, but a lot of us came at 7:30, and we’ll work until 5.”

The shelter took in 1,594 cats and dogs in 2012, and took in 1,460 animals in 2013. The decline is hopefully due to the spay and neuter program of the shelter, Southwick said.

Many of the volunteers came from the nearby Elanco facility, while others came from Union Hospital.

“Elanco really supports this shelter and community service,” Southwick said, “and my coworkers support the work the shelter does. Many have adopted animals, too.”

Chris Wood, campaign associate for the United Way of the Wabash Valley, said that the Day of Action puts volunteers in touch with agencies that need the help that a day of service can bring.

“The people of the Wabash Valley are so tremendous at giving. Our volunteers selflessly gave their own time to help our community partners,” Wood said. “And these partners work so hard all year long to provide their services to the people of the Wabash Valley — basic needs such as  food, shelter and clothing, or educational resources or health care assistance.”

Sometimes the small things such as painting, landscaping and organizing get delayed by an organization that focuses its resources on helping others, he said.

“They just don't have time to complete those kind of chores, because they are too busy serving others. Today was our opportunity to introduce our volunteers to those agencies,” Wood said. “Hopefully, some long-term partnerships were started today.”

For more information about the Day of Action, the United Way of the Wabash Valley, or its community partners, go online to

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

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