Helping hands

Krystle Wagner • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:44 AM

More than 830 volunteers participated at 67 locations for the 12th annual Greater Ottawa County United Way Day of Caring. Shannon Morton, the agency's director of volunteerism, said that set an all-time record.

“It’s a great feeling,” Morton said about the amount of people and businesses taking time out of their day to help the community.

Nicole Gasparovich spent the morning cleaning up the outside of the Love INC General Store, 948 Robbins Road in Grand Haven. She and Light Corp. co-workers cleared brush and spruced up the store’s yard.

Although she doesn’t normally have the opportunity to volunteer, Gasparovich said she wishes she did.

“It feels good to get that done,” she said as she looked at the completed task.

Across the yard, Light Corp. employees Danielle Pearson and Laura Potter trimmed overgrown landscape, working to expose the chain-link fence that was hidden beneath. Pearson said the next time she passes the store, she will remember the work she contributed to make it look nice.

“It’s nice just to help out,” Pearson said.

Inside the Love INC store, volunteers sorted clothing items, cleaned children's toys and painted.

Wendy Schweifler painted a doorway’s trim. She said she began volunteering five years ago and got hooked.

Schweifler said she was amazed at all the volunteers at Love INC and the almost complete makeover they gave the store on Thursday.

“We have a wonderful community,” she said.

Following lunch, volunteers reported for afternoon projects.

Employees from GHSP spent the afternoon painting a transitional house for The Salvation Army in Grand Haven.

“It makes me feel very good to be able to help people less fortunate than I am,” said Melissa Struntz, a GHSP employee.

As Struntz removed painting tape from a ceiling fan, Larry Ridge painted trim along a window.

Ridge said he volunteers from time to time. “It’s quite enjoyable,” he said.

Inside The Salvation Army building, Grand Haven Area Public Schools employees painted the room soon to be occupied by the school district’s Community C.H.I.L.L. program.

Before painting, Sandy Young, the school district’s accounting coordinator, placed painting tape along the bottom of the wall.

“You just get a good feeling,” Young said about volunteering. “It warms your spirit.”

Campaign kicked off

During a Day of Caring lunch for volunteers, the Greater Ottawa County United Way kicked off its 2012-13 community campaign, “Be an Everyday Hero.”

The campaign goal is to raise about $2.3 million, although the community need is about $2.8 million, said Louann Werksma, Greater Ottawa County United Way’s director of development and communications.

For the 10th straight year, the campaign will also have a Tri-Cities Leadership Challenge. An anonymous donor will match up to $30,000 for each individual increased or new donation to the campaign.

Shannon Morton, the local United Way’s director of volunteerism, said they are lucky to have the anonymous donor in the community.

“I’m hoping we surpass the goal,” she said.

Werksma said the community is great about donating not only their money, but their time as well.

“I’m really grateful to live in a community that looks around and says we can solve things,” she said.

For details about the campaign, visit ottawaunitedway.org.

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