PLAINS TWP. — Malcolm Bradford finished his breakfast and was heading to his one-day, once-a-year job: He was one of 600 volunteers participating in Wednesday’s United Way Day of Caring’s Operation Dream.
Bradford, 42, of Wilkes-Barre, an employee at Lord & Taylor, and his team of volunteers were assigned to clean the Back Mountain Trail— one of 34 maintenance projects completed Wednesday.
“It feels good to volunteer and help out in the community,” Bradford said as he left The Woodlands, where the United Way of Wyoming Valley held its “Operation Dream” breakfast and awards ceremony. “It doesn’t take much to help a lot.”
Bill Jones, United Way president/CEO, said the impact of the annual Day of Caring is significant to the budgets of nonprofit agencies.
Jones said 622 volunteers representing 43 businesses performed necessary work at 34 organizations by doing tasks ranging from painting to gardening to cleaning to serving meals to washing windows to picking up litter to calling bingo at a pizza party for senior citizens.
Jones said total volunteer hours exceeded 3,700, providing an estimated $82,000 in value to the groups helped.
“Each of you are passionate about our community,” Jones told a sea of orange-clad volunteers at the breakfast. “You are all rolling up your sleeves to help people served by these vital agencies.”
Theresa Porter, 33, of Wilkes-Barre, was with a group of volunteers from Benco Dental who were heading to the SPCA of Luzerne County in Plains Township to do yard work.
“This is my third year with the Day of Caring,” she said. “And it makes me feel better each year. If everyone gave eight hours of their time to volunteer, it would make a big difference in the community.”
Parks get helping hand
At the River Common Park along River Street, volunteers from Sallie Mae, Mondelez International and Pennsylvania American Water Co. were busy picking up litter and pulling weeds. Bill Konsavage, Tarynne Wolfe and Brian Stubbs agreed that their efforts and that of the other volunteers really made a difference in the community.
“I was surprised when I heard how many people were volunteering,” Konsavage said.
Wolfe, who has participated in the event for nine years, said she felt good “to be part of something that has so much meaning.”
Elizabeth Shafer of Pennsylvania American Water is a 17-year veteran of Day of Caring. She and 34 co-workers were enjoying the sunshine and the satisfaction of helping others.
“It’s important to give back to the community,” she said.
John Maday, of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Riverfront Parks Committee, said the cleanup efforts on both sides of the Susquehanna River were needed as RiverFest 2013 approaches. The event is scheduled for June 21-23.
Michael Zimmerman, executive director at Family Service Association of Wyoming Valley, said the work being done by volunteers may not be possible if it had to come out of his budget.
“This event helps so many agencies that help many people. It may seem like a little thing, but it all adds up to a lot,” he said.
At the breakfast, five awards were presented: United Way Corporate Award (more than 100 employees): Blue Cross of NEPA; United Way Corporate Award (fewer than 100 employees): The Citizens’ Voice; Rose Brader Community Service Award: Gary H. Williams; United Way Sam Bianco Labor Award: UFCW Local 1776; Sarah & Anthony F. Kane Jr. Achievement Award: Kevin Sickle.