Volunteers answer the call

Many hands make light work. That’s an old saying practiced on a grand scale during United Way’s annual Days of Caring.

Today and Saturday, hundreds of volunteers will answer the call. They’ll weed and paint. They’ll help children and elderly people. They’ll donate time and toil, but also send a strong message — that they care.

“To get a bunch of people together to do this is so heartwarming. We really do matter, and they do care,” said Diane Prouty, an administrative assistant at the Tulalip Boys &Girls Club.

Volunteers from Community Transit and Aviation Technical Services, Inc. will be at the Tulalip club Saturday to landscape, power wash, clean gutters, paint over graffiti, and do other projects.

This is the 19th year that United Way of Snohomish County will sponsor Days of Caring, the county’s largest volunteer event. About 1,000 people volunteer each year, said Neil Parekh, a United Way spokesman. In 2011, volunteers worked on 73 projects, among them harvesting produce for food banks, clearing land for a low-income housing project, and helping a disabled Marysville man with household chores.

Beautification and small-scale upgrades are part of Days of Caring, but Parekh said some projects are major efforts, and nonprofit agencies wouldn’t be able to do them without the help. “A lot of this just wouldn’t get done,” he said.

Through Days of Caring, a women’s shelter in Lynnwood run by YWCA of Seattle-King County-Snohomish County will have carpets cleaned, a parking lot striped and new bark put down in a children’s play area, Parekh said. And at the Snohomish County Chapter of the American Red Cross, renovations done by volunteers will provide a private area for people seeking Project Pride energy assistance.

Today, about 60 volunteers from the Fluke Corporation will do big jobs at Camp Fire USA’s Camp Killoqua in Stanwood. “One thing we do every year, we chop and deliver firewood,” said Kristal Whaley, a co-op manager with the company. Fluke volunteers will apply stain to cabins, wash the camp’s windows, repair plumbing and chop up trees that came down in storms.

“It’s very significant for us,” said Carol Johnson, assistant executive director of Camp Fire USA’s Snohomish County Council. Johnson said Fluke has sent Days of Caring volunteers to the camp for years. “We couldn’t keep the facility in good and safe shape for children without it,” she said.

For the Tulalip Boys &Girls Club, the cleanup comes a few weeks before the grand opening of an addition to the building, Prouty said. The expansion includes space for a music studio and a computer lab.

“It’s great to take time out of our lives to remember there are people who need our support. Children especially are our focus this year,” said Nicole Allard, a communications specialist at Aviation Technical Services. She said the aircraft maintenance and repair company will have about 17 volunteers at the Tulalip club Saturday. They’ll be joined by about 22 Community Transit volunteers, said Martin Munguia, a spokesman for the transit agency.

Also Saturday, Ann Gibson will join others from Providence Regional Medical Center Everett as a volunteer at the Imagine Children’s Museum. “We probably have about 21 people,” said Gibson, an executive assistant in the hospital’s Mission Integration and Spiritual Care department.

The hospital group will clean, create drums, sort blocks and put together slime kits, all to make the Everett museum safer and more fun for kids.

“It’s a way to give back,” Gibson said. “It’s good to serve the community outside the box of the hospital.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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