Dianne Frances D. Powell
TERRE HAUTE —
As a graphic designer for Clabber Girl, Denise Turner usually sits in front of the computer most of the week. But as a volunteer on Friday’s Day of Action, she was outdoors spreading mulch at a community garden.
Turner is one of 300 volunteers from area businesses who helped non-profit groups across the Wabash Valley work on 28 projects during the annual event organized by the United Way of the Wabash Valley.
Turner sums up many of the volunteers’ reason for volunteering.
“I just think you should give back to the community that you live in,” she said.
She joined about nine other volunteers at the Indiana State University Community Garden who worked on maintaining the garden’s paths to allow gardeners easier access to their plots.
The Community Garden gives area gardeners space to grow their plants. Each gardener is encouraged to donate part of their harvest to an area food bank.
Yvonne Russell, an ISU employee and master gardener who regularly works with the community garden said that it is important “for this place to be in good order.” The Day of Action gives them the chance to perform necessary grounds maintenance.
A short distance from the garden, other volunteers were busy sorting and shelving donations for Catholic Charities in its Christmas Store.
“What we’re doing is sorting what’s usable for the Christmas Store … and to clear the area so we can start organizing and setting up a store front,” said Dottye Crippen, program director of the Christmas Store.
Crippen also said the target number of 15 volunteers for the project has been met.
The Christmas Store works to ensure that low-income families receive gifts at Christmas time. It serves as much as 1,000 families and 3,600 individuals annually, according to John Etling, director of Catholic Charities.
Etling said Day of Action is more than just volunteering.
“It’s always important to have our donors come in to see what we do,” Etling said.
One volunteer and regular Catholic Charities supporter is Tammy Boland. She brought her family along to the Christmas Store.
Boland, her husband Todd, and granddaughter Kynlea Rehmel sorted clothes, books, DVDs and other donated items.
She said the family is involved with Catholic Charities “because of our faith.”
It was also a learning opportunity for 13-year-old Kynlea.
“I wanted Kynlea to have an opportunity to learn about service in the community,” Boland said.
Boland is one of 50 volunteers from Elanco, a local company who also sponsored the event’s breakfast kick-off.
Employees from the Clinton-based company make up most of this year’s Day of Action, according to Troy Fears, United Way of the Wabash Valley executive director.
In addition to the Christmas Store and the ISU Community Garden, Day of Action volunteers worked on projects for other non-profits such as the Humane Society of Sullivan County, Dobbs Park, and the Booker T. Washington Community Center.
Fears said the effort benefits both the agency and the volunteers.
It is not only about giving back but also about creating “a sense of pride in the community,” Fears said.
Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or firstname.lastname@example.org.