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Groups chip in for Day of Caring

The volunteers donned their matching grey t-shirts and headed out into the community for a day of giving back following a kick-off celebration at Vicksburg Mall Thursday morning.

A total of 270 volunteers spent the day at 17 sites throughout Vicksburg and Warren County for the 20th annual Day of Caring. They painted, played bingo, did yard maintenance and much more to give back to organizations in the community that strive to help those in need.

“We had all kinds of things happening our community today,” Michele Connelly, the executive director of the United Way of West-Central Mississippi, said. “It is a wonderful opportunity for businesses and individuals to get together and show how passionate they are for the non-profits in our community that make a difference every day.”

Among the many volunteers taking part, a team from International Paper spent the day working at the Good Sheppard Community Center.

“We have taken over the gymnasium here at Good Sheppard,” Maggie Cain, the human resource manager at International Paper, said. “We are painting the walls and making it brighter and more fun for the kids.”

The old faded pink paint on the walls was replaced with a bright blue that immediately livened the atmosphere in the gym. New baseboards were added and some workers repaired an old exhaust fan and built a new frame for it in the wall. In other parts of the building a new bathroom stall was built, and later in the day crews moved outdoors to do some landscaping.

“With this many people, it will provide us with several thousand dollars worth of work in time, materials and efforts that we don’t have to provide,” Good Sheppard director Tommy Miller said. “It saves us money and gives our community a wonderful opportunity to be community with us and cooperate with us as we help those in our community who are less fortunate.”

Miller repaid the generosity of the volunteers with a catfish fry, but for the crews the day was about giving back to the community they call home.

“It is a really good way to give back to the organizations that need more help,” Cain said. “A lot of live us in the Vicksburg community so it is nice to be able to donate our time, not just money and work on projects like this.”

For 20 years, crews like the one from International Paper have gathered for a day of giving back through the United Way and with 17 more projects completed this year, Connelly said the lasting impact cannot be measured.

“Twenty whole years, where this day has been set aside to go out into the community and make a difference,” Connelly said. “Can you imagine all the things that have been done in the last 20 years to make sure we are sustainable in our community?”