MOUNT VERNON — The sun was shining brightly Wednesday afternoon as the United Way of Knox County held its Community Care Day luncheon at Riverside Park. The event kicked off the organization’s annual campaign, with 80 volunteers venturing out to perform service projects around the county.
“This is one way to Live United,” Jen Odenweller, executive director of United Way of Knox County, said during her speech to volunteers. “Your willingness to join us here today tells me that you don’t just wear the shirt, you live it. You Live United.”
Twenty-one agencies and countless businesses and community members have contributed money and volunteer work on behalf of the campaign and the Live United movement.
In June, the board of trustees for the Knox County United Way set a campaign goal for the year and made plans for community investment.
“As of Community Care Day, we have a secured commitment of more than $319,665, or 47 percent of the $680,000 campaign goal,” said Doug Leonard, campaign co-chairman.
The kick-off event gives contributors the opportunity to learn where their investment goes, where the need is and how it benefits agencies in the area, said Odenweller.
“And for the groups volunteering from companies, it’s a great team-building exercise,” she said.
The Salvation Army of Mount Vernon was one of the service projects involved in the event. Employees of Ariel Corp., Rolls-Royce and Energy Machine Inc. worked together to tackle landscaping, fix a fence, put a new roof on the pavilion, and gut the garage to prepare it for concrete to be laid in the future. Also collaborating on the landscaping portion of the project was Mow and Go and Fast Eddy’s Birch Tree Care.
“They’re going to give us an extreme makeover — trimming trees, putting down new mulch and putting in new trees. They will even do gutters,” said Maj. Robert Bender of the Mount Vernon Salvation Army. “That’s all incredible; I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. Normally, I would have to do it myself or get volunteers to do it. Who says the Lord doesn’t answer prayers?”
From the volunteers’ hard work, other places will benefit by having cleaning, fixing and landscaping tasks performed. The Alcohol and Drug Freedom Center will get a fresh coat of paint by volunteers from Jeld-Wen and the Energy Cooperative; the team will also help in cleaning for Equine Assisted Therapy.
A group from First-Knox National Bank will be hanging 2-1-1 informational fliers on doors in Fredericktown and Centerburg, as well as painting at the American Red Cross. Also contributing to the effort of hanging 2-1-1 information is a group from Knox Community Hospital, Killbuck Savings Bank, Peoples Bank, Mount Vernon City Schools and Rays of Hope Autism Center.
Another team consisting of volunteers from Peoples Bank, Mental Health America, The Station Break, the Arthritis Foundation, and the Muskingum Valley Council of Boy Scouts of America will relocate donated cubicle units to United Way partner agencies.
“What United Way enables agencies like [The Salvation Army] to do is a whole lot more than what we could do on our own. And it shows with so many volunteers, that people still care and they care about the community here,” said Bender.