Lending hands on Day of Caring

Published 11:06 am Monday, September 19, 2011

Sarah Hillson, part of a group of volunteers from Faith Free Church, paints a shed at a house in southwest Austin, part of the United Way’s Day of Caring Saturday. More than a hundred volunteers worked on 14 projects. -- Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Homecoming’s not the only big tradition around here.

The sixth Day of Caring took place last Saturday, meaning everyday people helped 14 senior residents in Austin with yardwork, painting and more.

“This is one of my favorite days of the year,” said Mandi Lighthizer-Schmidt, executive director of United Way of Mower County, which puts on the event. “I love to see the interaction between volunteers and homeowners.”

Members of Faith Free Church paint a house in southwest Austin Saturday morning as part of the United Way Day of Caring.

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The United Way started the event as a way to help elderly residents with yard tasks they may not be able to complete on their own, an unmet need in the community according to Lighthizer-Schmidt.

That’s why so many people come out to participate.

“It’s kind of a fun activity to do,” said Marissa Bartels, Austin High School senior. Bartels and other AHS students volunteer through sports teams and AHS organizations to help others.

“I’ve done this for three years in a row,” said Jordan Bentley, AHS senior.

Others participated their first time this year. Scott and Jana Haynes have waited to take their children Natalie, 8, and Cooper, 6, out to volunteer for someone else.

“We have two young kids and it’s a great chance to teach them how to give back,” Scott said. “It means a lot to us.”

The Haynes were out cleaning a garage Saturday while Bartels, Bentley and other students through AHS’s National Honor Society group went to paint a house and stain a deck.

At the end of the day, it wasn’t so much the work they did as it was the help they were able to give.

“I wanted to volunteer today because it was my chance to give back to the community,” said Jacob Crosby, AHS senior.