WILKES-BARRE — X’Zayveon Trout stood at the tub-style table full of blue-tinted water, cups and plastic animals, while Paul Griffiths had to crouch to reach it. Trout filled a larger measuring cup with water and handed it to Griffiths.
“Here’s your tea!” he said proudly.
“It’s blue,” Griffiths pondered.
“It’s blueberry tea!” Trout explained.
Griffiths was one of 16 volunteers from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield who came to help clean up at Luzerne County Head Start on Beekman street Thursday, and they were, in turn, just a fraction of 1,042 people from 73 companies who had volunteered to help in 56 locations as part of the United Way of Wyoming Valley “Day of Caring.”
And if you think cleaning windows and chairs is busy work created by Head Start for the visiting volunteers, Head Start Director of Operations Dawn Smith said the help was greatly appreciated. “We only have one maintenance guy for all of Luzerne County Head Start.”
Technically, not all the volunteers were out Thursday. Those who had signed up for outside work — cleaning up a park, say — got a rain date and will be out later. United Way President Bill Jones said 16 projects were postponed.
Jones noted he has been on all three sides on the Day of Caring: As volunteer, recipient and now man in charge of the agency that runs it. Which is his favorite?
“Volunteering,” he said without hesitation. “It just feels great to get out and help people like this.”
At Head Start, the volunteers spent most of their time cleaning, which still could involve the preschool students in the building. When Ryan Stavish, Tammy Tokach and Sharon Hollock cleaned glass between two rooms, Trout and his friends headed to the other side of the panes and started grinning and waving.
But they did stop at times and work — or maybe more accurately, play — with the youngsters, as when Griffiths crouched by the water table and pulled different animals out, asking Trout and classmate Ethan Kempa what the beast was.
Hmmm. A seemingly endless supply of highly obedient yellow minions from the Despicable Me movies?
Sounds like perfect recruits for Day of Caring.