Volunteers complete Day of Caring projects around county

It’s an undertaking that drew 1,337 adult volunteers and 268 youth participants.

There were 190 projects submitted along with six involving youth assisting at their schools or at other sites in the community.

The volunteer hours completed total 9,450 and the number of volunteer participants grew by more than a 100 from a year ago. One location even drew 95 volunteers.

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On Tuesday, the 23rd annual Jackson County United Way Day of Caring touched communities across the county including Brownstown, Cortland, Crothersville, Freetown, Houston, Medora, Norman, Reddington, Rockford, Seymour and Vallonia.

Bonita Dobbs, program manager, said she is reminded each year about how people in Jackson County are willing to step up and give of their time.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” she said. “It’s wonderful to hear people ask how they can become engaged.”

Dobbs said it’s not just about volunteering. Besides providing volunteers, many businesses and organizations donate materials for projects and other needs throughout the day.

She said she enjoys seeing the gratitude from people who volunteers help, especially the elderly.

Dobbs said some seniors on tight budgets, while others are physically unable to do the yard work now. Often times, volunteers can have a huge impact on someone’s life.

“A wheelchair ramp was built for a lady who hasn’t been able to leave her home in two years,” Dobbs said. “She plans to be at church on Sunday.”

It’s rewarding to see all the volunteers take pride in their work, too, Dobbs said.


Employees of The Peoples Bank were among those helping with a project in the county seat.

Seven people spent the day painting 26 picnic tables at Brownstown Park, adding a fresh coat of black paint to each one.

“Hopefully, they will get good use out of it and appreciate the new look,” Bryan Stahl, vice president of The Peoples Bank, said of people visiting the park and seeing the painted tables. “I think we probably made some improvements today.”

Stahl said the bank has helped with Day of Caring for the past few years. Other projects have been painting a building and replanting trees at the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Brownstown.

“We just felt it was a great way to take a day and give back to the community and help some organizations out with some projects that need done,” he said.

The bank, which has offices in Brownstown, Crothersville and Seymour, allows employees an opportunity to sign up and help.

“We see who’s available and try to get six or seven people every year,” Stahl said.

Sara Hanner was among the employees helping Tuesday. She is a teller and custodian at the bank.

“This is my first time to do this,” she said of volunteering for Day of Caring. “I love to paint.”

She was glad to have an opportunity to spend time with her co-workers outside the workplace.

“Oh, I love it,” Hanner said. “It’s fun to work with them. Everybody gets along really well.”

Even better, it made her feel good to know she made a difference in the community.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing that they do because we’re giving back to the community,” she said.

Stahl said with the bank being in the service industry and serving the people of Jackson County, Day of Caring is a great way to give back.

“We get just the satisfaction to give back to the community for a day, and I think it’s a great way to get people out of the office and work together,” he said. “Some of us work at different locations. We don’t see each other on a daily basis. It’s kind of a way to catch up. It’s teamwork and camaraderie between employees.”


Centra Credit Union was among the businesses participating in Day of Caring.

A group of employees from the Seymour branch worked at Mary and Ralph Hurt’s home.

Branch manager Karen Owens said volunteering aligns with the company’s mission of “People helping people.”

Once Centra decided to get involved in Day of Caring, Owens said it wasn’t hard to find volunteers.

“If I could shut down the branch, I think every single person there would have volunteered, but that’s not good customer service, so we took a few,” she said.

Owens and five other employees volunteered at the Hurts’ home.

“I can see what we’ve done in a few short hours, and to imagine what the other volunteers as a whole have done, it’s awesome,” said Jenni Carr, community involvement officer for Centra Credit Union.

Employee Brian Schoettmer was happy to help, too.

“You never know when you’re going to be on the other side,” he said.

The group painted a fence, stripped and repainted a porch and stained an heirloom hanging chair for the patio for the couple.

Mary Hurt said the chair has been on their porch for 30 years. It belonged to Ralph’s parents and hadn’t been treated or stained in a long time.

“This is such a blessing. I love being out here with them,” Mary Hurt said. “This is love, fellowship, not being left alone or having to live with things undone. It’s just major love that people will reach out and do things for you like this.”

Since she uses a wheelchair, Hurt is unable to do the work that the volunteers completed.

She said Day of Caring has one important purpose: Teaching the younger generation that there is more to being a community than just work.

“You get back a portion of what you give,” Mary said. “I try to volunteer. I make cancer hats. God wants you to give and share and be the hands of Jesus.”

The owner of a year-and-a-half-old Seymour firm that helps telecommunication companies with engineering and permitting didn’t have to look too far Tuesday to find a Day of Caring project for his employees.

“They have a special place in my heart, and what they do here is so awesome for the community,” Kevin Maxwell said of The Alley, a nondenominational church in Seymour.

Located on East Second Street, The Alley also provides meals for the community from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday each week.

Maxwell, who owns BSM Groups, said The Alley has a great community outreach.

“I just try to help whenever I can,” he said.

Besides the Day of Caring project, he helps serve meals on Thursdays and provides the sound for the church’s weekly service on Friday nights.

“The first thing we did this morning was we cleaned everything,” Maxwell said. “We mopped every floor from the bathroom to the top (floor).”

The group also cleaned all of the dining room tables, washed the walls in the kitchen and helped kitchen manager Sara Bowling rearrange the food storage area.

Then there was time for a quick lunch before the group went right back to work to cook hamburgers and hot dogs to serve the 70 or so people expected for Tuesday’s meal.

Bowling, who relies on a core group of volunteers to prepare and serve the daily meals, said the “deep cleaning” by the BSM Groups employees during Day of Caring was needed.

“They’ve been awesome. I love it,” said Bowling, who also works for Maxwell and BSM Groups.

Retha Neal of Seymour, one of the 20 or so employees working for the company, said she just loves helping out the community whenever possible.

“I love doing this,” she said. “It’s a refreshing feeling to be able to help people.”


Students at Cortland Elementary School were among the many youth who helped complete projects Tuesday.

Members of the Student Enrichment Team volunteered their time sprucing up Cortland Christian Church.

It was the second year for the group, elected by students, to help with Day of Caring.

Wendy Nicholson, the school’s counselor, helped fifth graders Joel Roberts, Logan Runge, Ann Marie Shuler and Krenzley Zumhingst clear brush, pull weeds, pick up hickory nuts and plant flowers around the church.

“It feels good to help other people, and at the end of the day, it’s great to see what all you were able to do and accomplish,” Roberts said.

During other times of the year, the team decorates the school’s Christmas tree, completes canned food drives, takes photos at Valentine’s Day, picks out shirts for the last day of school and more.

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"This is love, fellowship, not being left alone or having to live with things undone. It’s just major love that people will reach out and do things for you like this."

Mary Hurt of Seymour said of Day of Caring volunteers doing work at her home Tuesday