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LIGHTNING PHOTOS: Days of Caring wraps up with letter carrier food drive

High school volunteers Reese Schrader, Ben Geiser, Abby Stephens, Bella Geiser, Anna Dailey and Shae Jones loaded donated food into trucks. High school volunteers Reese Schrader, Ben Geiser, Abby Stephens, Bella Geiser, Anna Dailey and Shae Jones loaded donated food into trucks.

More than 350 volunteers fanned out across Henderson County Friday and Saturday, helping schools, nonprofits, parks and other agencies with spring cleaning, painting, landscaping and other jobs at 32 sites.

The United Way's Days of Caring wrapped up after dark Saturday night when the last mail trucks pulled into the parking lot at the U.S. Postal Service annex and unloaded their haul of canned goods for the annual National Letter Carriers Annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.

The donations will go to food pantries run by Interfaith Assistance Ministry, The Storehouse and the Salvation Army.

"They're all telling us their stock is incredibly low right now," said Sarah Kowalak, the United Way's director of community impact.

On Friday and Saturday volunteers from local businesses as well as community activists donated their time and talent to assist with landscaping, gardening and maintenance at nonprofits like Only Hope WNC, Veteran’s Healing Farm, MountainCare, and St. Gerard House. Other organizations planned projects to support operations like sorting donations for the IAM Thrift Store or Calvary Episcopal Church’s rummage sale, both serving residents in need. More volunteers helped maintain office and client spaces though cleaning, painting and organizing at the Hendersonville Rescue Mission, Salvation Army and Blue Ridge Literacy Council.

“We are thrilled to once again provide an in-person volunteer opportunity that does so much good for our community,” said Denise Cumbee Long, executive director of United Way of Henderson County. “The pandemic forced us to cancel or change the format of this event during the past two years. It is great to be back in full swing and see so many people rolling up their sleeves as they work at nonprofit agencies across the county.”  

“I absolutely love this day!” exclaimed Tanya Blackford, executive director of the Western Region Crossnore Communities for Children. “It’s what community is all about and reminds us that there is always goodness in the world. We are so grateful to have these volunteers here to plant flower boxes and make our entrance so bright and welcoming.”

“Many organizations and individuals will benefit from the work that local volunteers accomplished on Friday and Saturday. We want to thank everyone who is helping this weekend,” said Long. “We are so grateful for these generous folks who are showing how much they care about our community!”

Tammy Albrecht, plant manager at Wilsonart, was proud to bring some of her team out to volunteer.

“Our employees give to United Way, and some receive service from agencies supported by United Way. So, Days of Caring is a great way to give back to United Way and the wider community.”

“Having these volunteers is even more important for us now," said the Rev. Tim Jones, vice president of the Rescue Mission. "We have a small staff and it's been thin since Covid. We have a backlog of work to complete and we’re grateful for Days of Caring volunteers who are helping us.”

The effect of donated hours makes a lasting impact on local agencies that are working to support county residents with programs and services. In all, 355 individuals contributed 1,375 hours of volunteer labor to 20 area nonprofit organizations. The impact of those hours is equivalent to $39,424 contribution.

Days of Caring was made possible by these sponsors:

  • Gold Level: Publix Super Market Charities
  • Silver Level: Beverly-Hanks of Hendersonville, Champion Comfort Experts, GE Current–a Daintree company, Pratt & Whitney, Vulcan Materials Company, WNC Bridge Foundation
  • Bronze Level: Carolina Village, Duke Energy, Goldsmith, Molis & Gray PLLC, Kimberly-Clark
  • Copper Level: Optimum, Pepsi