Shannon Jenkins, marketing and communications director for the local United Way, said the number of volunteers increased slightly from last year.
“I hope what we’re seeing is a trend. We love being able to partner volunteer teams with these agencies and get some work done,” he said.
He said he expects this year’s volunteers to have logged more than 2,100 hours of service.
David Maddox, who represents Publix of Oxford, and his team were matched up with the Health Services Center in Hobson City. The nonprofit center uses state and federal funds to provide HIV testing and medical care, housing, substance abuse treatment, mental health care and case management for patients across 14 counties in east Alabama.
“It makes me feel good. Publix’ motto is being responsible to areas and the community. It’s our responsibility to give to the people who are less fortunate,” he said.
Narda Christian has worked at the Health Services Center for 12 years. She said the center needed some help with renovations and planting in the area, especially at four of its housing facilities.
“We’re sprucing it up a bit. We want to set up a picnic area for clients,” Christian said.
Around 8 a.m. volunteers lugging shovels began digging up dirt in front of the Hobson City Public Library to make room for some flowers.
“Clients really appreciate it when they see the work that’s being done,” Christian said. “It motivates them to come out and help.”
Jenkins said United Way tries to pair nonprofits and business volunteer groups by their first and second preferences, which are presented to them between March and April.
“We try really hard to match them with their first choice but we usually have projects that are very popular,” he said. “There have been some pretty cool relationships developed. Walmart of Anniston always requests for work at East Central Alabama United Cerebral Palsy.”
Ricky Tyree, the United Way team leader for Walmart of Anniston, said his team has requested to work with East Central Alabama United Cerebral Palsy during the Day of Action for the past seven years.
Tyree said because of their strong relationship, the Anniston Walmart employees have helped the cerebral palsy group with other things, too, like supplying it with door prizes and cooking equipment for fundraisers.
Tyree and his team helped the organization paint its building and lay mulch at the area around its playground this year. He said he enjoyed the children most from his experiences working with the group.
“The greatest memories I have are seeing the kids come to the windows to see us working and wave,” he said.
Lindsay Smith of the Alabama Power Service Organization and her team helped paint the lobby at the Animal Shelter in Anniston.
As Smith kneeled down to paint the gate, she pointed her paint brush at Puddin, the shelter’s fat, yellow resident cat in the corner.
“We spilled paint by him and he never moved,” she said.
“He’s been supervising,” said Kathleen Waelti, the Animal Shelter project coordinator, as she gestured to the walls. “They did a great job. If we were doing it alone it would have taken forever.”
Jenkins said an unusual project this year is ongoing and being done by three different companies. AOD Credit Union, Eastman Chemical and the Calhoun County Commission office and Administration Building staff joined together to promote the Pantry Collection Drive, for which they’ll collect baby supplies, laundry supplies, non-perishable foods and personal hygiene items until June 28.
Audrey Tinkey, who works in marketing at the AOD Credit Union in Oxford, said its employees were allowed to buy Day of Action T-shirts to wear on casual work days since they were unable to go out into the community to volunteer Friday.
Jenkins said he thinks the best thing about the Day of Action is that people are seeing the world through different eyes.
“It brings folks a window that they may not be familiar with. It helps them see a side of things they might not see every day,” he said.
Staff Writer Madasyn Czebiniak: 256-235-3553. On Twitter: @Mczebiniak_Star
Staff writer Madasyn Czebiniak: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @MCzebiniak_Star.