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Local Businesses help United Way celebrate Day of Caring
By: Traci Bridges

Local businesses were invited to show just how much they care about their community Friday as the United Way of Florence County celebrated its 18th annual Day of Caring.

The Day of Caring is a countrywide effort to contribute volunteer time to community projects, which officially kicks off 2010-11 United Way Campaign.  Last year, more than 25 area companies and 375 volunteers donated more than 3,000 hours to 65 community projects.

So far this year, more than 250 volunteers have committed to a host of projects that will benefit and help United Way agencies, Wendy Bird, Vice President of Campaigns for the United Way of Florence County, said.  "I've had a few companies contact me just this week about getting involved," Bird said.  "There are still projects available." 

Some of this year's projects include yard maintenance, cleaning, painting, construction and repairs and office work.  Employees of Circle Park, for example, will work together to paint the office at Lighthouse Ministries.  They'll also clean the parking lot behind the agency's office and construct a ramp to assist volunteer entering the back entrance of the building.  Employees of Carolinas Hospital System have volunteered to meet several needs at the Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault.

"It's so much fun, because it's like Christmas for our agencies," Bird said.  "They get their wish lists taken care of and most of the stuff that's done is stuff these agencies would not be able to pay to get done on their own.  They don't have the budgets for it."

Employees of participating businesses perform the work, and their employers cover the cost of the projects.  The day kids off with a group breakfast at First Presbyterian Church.  The United Way provides breakfast, a T-shirt and water and soft drinks throughout the day for participants.  This year, Rita's Italian Ice and Chick-Fil-A also chipped in to provide special gift coupons for volunteers.

"The Day of Caring is a great way for companies to get involved and see what our agencies do," Bird said.  "It is a way to make a difference in the community, and it's also a great way to build teamwork with employees."

The mission of the United Way is to provide community leadership and resource development to positively impact the needs of our community by strengthening relationships, programs and services that produce measurable results and improve the quality of life.

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