Community support is force behind Day of Caring

Tree planting, landscaping and picking up trash all part of volunteer efforts

— The hard work that school children and adults put into the Day of Caring was symbolic of the community's pride and willingness to help those in need.

"I think it is important to help the community because it is not very often we get to do that," said Lizzie Stoll, a sixth-grader at Steamboat Springs Middle School. Stoll and other members of her sixth-grade class washed windows and screens at the community center.

The Day of Caring included a number of community-wide projects such as planting trees, landscaping, picking up trash and helping nonprofits with any needed tasks.

United Way Executive Director Millie Beall said about 400 people volunteered to help out for the day.

"The recipients, as well as the workers, were all smiles today," she said. The work force donated was a tremendous benefit to nonprofits, she said. Beall said many employers granted their employees a day off to participate in the event.

Sixth-grade teacher Judy Ludwig said the idea was designed to help organizations and people in need and was a great learning experience for students.

"They learn that it is rewarding to participate in community projects," she said.

Ludwig said it was nice seeing her students in a new light, using their muscles and hearts instead of their heads.

She said she thinks it is wonderful to repay the community by helping maintain the beauty and integrity of the area.

"Steamboat is such a wonderful caring community, it is great to do something," said Sarah Pruett, a parent volunteer for Lowell Whiteman Primary School. She said the school, like many others, wanted the chance to give back to the community.

"They (students) get a source of pride and belonging," she said.

The Day of Caring allowed many nonprofit organizations to receive help on projects that wouldn't have been completed without the assistance of the community.

Chris Painter, director of Bud Werner Memorial Library, said the library looks forward to the Day of Caring because volunteers can complete many projects the regular staff doesn't have time for.

"The goal is to keep the library a source of pride," she said. To help out, students collected brochures, dusted shelves and cleaned up litter surrounding the building.

"Helping others is the most rewarding thing you can do," Painter said.

The Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter was grateful for the help the organization received from Steamboat Springs Middle School and Lowell Whiteman students.

Kirsten Grabenstatter, an employee at the shelter, said students helped with by cleaning cat cages, washing dogs and taking them for walks. Although the students were working hard, they seemed to have a good time.

"It was a real good experience for them," she said. The needs of the community's nonprofit organizations is something the Day of Caring helps people to understand, she said.

Students who visited the shelter learned how much time and energy it takes to take care of all the homeless cats and dogs.

Grabenstatter also said taking the time to help out is more valuable than just making a donation.

"Donations are good, but when people come in it really shows that they are dedicated to helping out the community."

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