CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - About 700 volunteers from across the Charlottesville area are working together for the United Way of Greater Charlottesville’s 29th annual Day of Caring, hoping to complete roughly 100 projects for nonprofits and other organizations.
“Today’s a celebration of philanthropy and giving back to our community,” said United Way of Greater Charlottesville President Ravi Respeto.
Many volunteers spent the day getting their hands dirty, helping with landscaping and painting projects for nonprofits like The Bridgeline, a brain injury recovery center. Others offered their services online, by helping with marketing or planning efforts.
Respeto said because many nonprofits receiving help are understaffed or losing funds because of COVID-19, while simultaneously trying to support a growing number of those in need of their services.
”The nonprofit sector does so much for our community, especially in the human services. And right now, more than ever, families are struggling. This has been a financial tsunami just has as much as it’s been a health and safety issue,” Respeto said.
Michael Nafziger, advancement manager of The Bridgeline, said the extra help will save money.
“It helps our bottom line tremendously, it helps us provide the services we can provide. You know, we’re able to help pay for music and art therapy rather than groundskeeping so it goes a really long way with helping the people we support,” he said.
Over at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center (CATEC), volunteers built garden beds for culinary students and community members to use once school reopens. The project was put on hold earlier in the year because of COVID-19.
Josh Davis, head chef and instructor, said the garden beds will give students and others access to fresh ingredients. “The impact that it has on the community, the impact it has on the school, it’s great,” he said.
Although many of the projects were outdoors to maintain social distancing guidelines, several volunteer projects took place virtually and at facilities like All Blessings Flow, which recycles and donates medical and mobility equipment.
“We lost some of our volunteers because they’re over 65 and were a little scared to come in, which we totally understand that, but a day like this is just amazing,” said Executive Director Annie Dodd. “We had so much equipment built up and they came in and they’ve been working solid since they got here and they have helped us out tremendously.”
Nesha Jones, who grew up in the Belmont community where she was volunteering, said giving back helps people feel more involved in their community, especially when they’ve been separated from others due to the pandemic.
“We’ve been quarantining - whether at home or in the hospital - forever now, so being able to get out and work with other people and give back to our community means a lot,” she said.