MOUNT VERNON — One hundred and twenty volunteers worked together on dozens of community service projects around Knox County Tuesday afternoon as part of the United Way of Knox County’s Community Care Day.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to bring so many diverse folks together and focus in to partner and make a difference,” said Jennifer Odenweller, executive director of United Way in Knox County, as volunteers grabbed work gloves, paint, shovels, and whatever other tools they needed and left to work on projects in communities around the county.
Caitlin Benton and Caryl Fresco, employees of Rolls-Royce, said this was their first Community Care Day in Knox County.
“I did quite a bit of volunteer work in college and it’s something that I wanted to make sure I did when I started working,” Benton explained before leaving to help work on the grounds of the Head Start center in Danville.
“I did some volunteer work at school too, but a lot of time I got busy, so now I’ve got more time to do it,” Fresco agreed.
Jeff Robinson of Fredericktown, a Rolls-Royce fabricator/assembler, said this is his second year helping with the project.
“I feel there’s probably a greater need for us to be here with the economy the way it is,” Robinson explained. “It’s a worthwhile cause.”
Robinson and fellow Rolls-Royce workers Jordan Lawless and Joanne Bosh had plans to work on the Head Start playground, and deliver United Way signs around the county.
“It’s a little bit of time that can greatly improve something for somebody less fortunate,” Lawless said.
John Pentycote, a machinist at Ariel Corp. who has been helping out with Community Care Day for three years, said helping out in person is different than just having United Way donations deducted from his paycheck, which he also does.
“I might as well come out and participate, because I like doing community work,” Pentycote said.
Volunteers gathered to eat lunch wearing shirts which all read, “Live United,” were told by Odenweller that the motto is meaningful locally.
“Here in Knox County, we don’t just wear the shirt, we live it,” she said. “By working together to tackle community needs and make a difference, we live united.”
Coaches for the volunteers this year were Mike Haughton and Steve Hall, who got the crowd motivated, and then told the volunteers this year’s ambitious goal of raising $700,000 in Knox County, has already begun.
Showing a thermometer already 33 percent of the way to the goal, Haughton said while this year’s fundraising won’t be easy, over $233,000 has already been raised.
Haughton urged the volunteers to take an interest in the agencies they would be helping during the afternoon.
Odenweller said the event often leads to volunteers finding long-term opportunities to serve their communities.