WINCHESTER — About 1,000 volunteers tackled 116 community service projects on Thursday as a part of the United Way of Northern Shenandoah Valley’s annual Day of Caring.
The event united volunteers from more than 50 local businesses and organizations to help area nonprofit and community groups. It also marked the start of the United Way NSV’s annual fundraising campaign. This year’s goal is $1 million. So far, $305,000 has been raised. The campaign continues until Dec. 31.
The organization raised $1.056 million last year, short of its $1.75 million goal. This year's goal is $1 million this year.
Nadine Pottinga, the local United Way chapter’s president and CEO, said a $1 million goal was set in an effort to raise at least $1 million for the 19th consecutive year for the organization, which serves Winchester and the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page and Shenandoah.
Day of Caring helps build community, Jay Rudolph, vice president of human resources at Trex, told volunteers who gathered Thursday morning at Millwood Station Event Center before they headed out to do their community service projects. Rudolph serves on the United Way NSV’s board of directors and is campaign chairman for fundraising.
“By making the community stronger, we make our workforce stronger,” Rudolph said, noting that every $1 raised for United Way equates to $4 used to address community needs.
“Rest-assured that the funds go to the need,” Rudolph said.
Volunteers took on all sorts of projects as part of Day of Caring. For instance, employees from First Bank worked on a wildlife enclosure at the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center in Clarke County. Malloy Toyota staff packed donated baby items for Healthy Families Northern Shenandoah Valley. At the Our Health campus in Winchester, workers from Trex did gardening, painting and cleaning.
Shelly Lee was volunteering with a group from First United Methodist Church in Winchester. She has participated in Day of Caring for the past three years. On Thursday, she helped clean up Abram’s Creek near Shenandoah University.
For Lee, Day of Caring is a chance to bring the community together, clean it up and be available to help in a small way.
At Fremont Street Nursery in Winchester, 10 volunteers from Tolley Dental redid the nursery’s kitchen floor, examined children’s teeth and helped clean and disinfect the nursery’s classrooms.
“We’re just very grateful for [Tolley Dental] to be able to come and give our children exams, because a lot of them don’t have insurance,” said Freda Roberson, executive director of Fremont Street Nursery, which opened in 1943 and provides affordable childcare for ages 6 weeks to 12 years old.
Dr. Ben Tolley said he has noticed a dramatic decrease in the number of cavities since his office began doing the free exams four years ago. Of the 25 children that were examined, only one cavity was found. The free exams are a chance to teach children about dental care, and each child got a goody bag of items to promote oral hygiene.
United Way Marketing and Outreach Director Elise Stine-Dolinar, whose 7-month-old daughter attends Fremont Street Nursery, said parents are lucky to have Tolley Dental provide free dental exams to the children.
“It’s such a bonus that they get this exposure, and they get to see a dentist and it’s not scary,” she said.
To donate to the United Way’s fundraising campaign, visit unitedwaynsv.org and look for the donate button. For more information, call 540-536-1610.
* This article has been changed to correct last year's fundraising total.