Day of Caring from the heart

Time is precious. Donation of time can be as meaningful as donating money.

People who make an effort to give time to family members may be called generous. People who make the effort to give time to strangers are on a higher plane. Helping family may come from the heart, but it also may stem from obligation.

Jackson County United Way’s annual Day of Caring is special because volunteers are volunteers, people who set aside a day, maybe give up a day of work, to provide assistance to someone they don’t even know.

That is no small thing. Some 160 volunteers signed up to do just that Tuesday to provide a little bit of help to others in Seymour, Brownstown, Crothersville, Medora and Freetown for the 25th annual event, and their sweat and labor were divvied up among 45 projects across the region. Together, they were summed up as “giving back to the community.”

Theresa Childers, 80, the recipient of youthful assistance to spruce up her home, was one of the many who used that phrase. It is broad in definition, yet widely understood, serving in its own way as a big-tent hug for those who could use one.

After more than a year of a global pandemic that has afflicted more than 160 million people and killed 3.3 million of them and disrupted every aspect of daily life, citizens have been tested and tried, left in mourning and sadness. This was a good time to appreciate and savor all sides of United Way’s Day of Caring.

Certainly, there were uncounted thousands, perhaps millions, who faced despair who may have believed since the early days of 2020 that no one would care about them again.

In many ways, people who may have been in financial need, or less dramatically, simply physically incapable of handling difficult challenges at their homes, churches or nonprofit groups and others were recipients of caring.

Teams of well-wishers descended on individual homes to do everything from paint the porch to weed the lawn or spruced up community flower pots in downtown Seymour. It was all for the common good.

This was symbolic of rejuvenation of the American spirit. People could make house calls again. There is still a bushel of bad news every day, horrifying shootings across the country, bad people doing terrible things to good people.

In the midst of all of that, hope knocks on the door. That’s what this really is, especially when sites are visited and youngsters, from elementary school students to high-schoolers, are in the field giving of their time. The indoctrination of the young to allot time and attention to others is a lesson for life.

Young people asked why they were helping fix up someone’s home said it felt good to give back to the community. That was the motto of the day.

Some organizations and individuals sign up religiously year after year to volunteer labor and time for United Way. Businesses and corporations spread across Jackson County gladly lend out employees for the day.

Schneck Medical Center was committed to five different projects in Seymour and Medora with 18 workers on volunteer lists. This past year has probably been the most trying time in Schneck’s history when doctors and nurses were under tremendous pressure to treat those seriously ill with COVID-19 and save lives while risking their own.

Yet Schneck volunteers found additional time to care in a different manner. They weren’t administering drugs, but perhaps were still providing medicine to reinvigorate spark where it had been drained. Community spirit, and this example of it, “is huge,” said Stephanie Strothmann, the local United Way community impact director.

While this event is high-profile organized, there are no rules against displaying caring to neighbors on the other 364 days a year.