Working in the rain

Krystle Wagner • Sep 21, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Thursday morning’s heavy rain didn’t stop volunteers from giving back across Ottawa County.

More than 1,250 volunteers from 54 companies participated in 45 projects as part of the Greater Ottawa County United Way's annual Day of Caring.

The volunteers’ efforts provided nearly $212,000 worth of labor support, said Shannon LaHaie, vice president of volunteer engagement for the local United Way.

Nearly 20 Grand Haven Board of Light & Power employees helped winterize a community garden and spread mulch on a playground and new sand for a volleyball court at White Pines Intermediate School.

“We’re a community-owned organization, and it’s our way of being able to give back a little bit to our community,” said Rob Shelley, distribution and engineering manager for the BLP.

In addition to the Day of Caring, Shelley said the BLP runs a workplace campaign to contribute to the local United Way’s campaign.

A group has volunteered nearly every year to help winterize the community garden at White Pines since it was established.

White Pines sixth-grade teacher Terry Lehnen said students will see the work volunteers did and remember it. In the spring, the sixth-graders will have their own volunteer experience by participating in the Junior Day of Caring, Lehnen said.

As the rain fell Thursday morning, a group of Grand Haven High School students involved in the Interact Club of Grand Haven worked to clean up and restock the food pantry at The People Center in Spring Lake. The club has participated in the Day of Caring for the past 12 years, and they’re also involved in the United Way’s Rake-A-Difference event, said club adviser John Mauro.

Freshman Cameron Soentgen said she joined the club as a way to help the community and be with other students who want to do the same.

While the group restocked canned goods in the food pantry, junior Tess O’Leary said she likes being able to play a role in helping families.

“It’s great to be involved in the community,” added sophomore Isabelle Vanantwerpen.

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