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Seniors benefit from Day of Caring

Next Wednesday, May 6, more than 2,200 high school students and staff from Detroit Lakes, Lake Park-Audubon and Frazee-Vergas as well as community volunteers from area businesses, churches and service organizations will spend their morning hours showing area residents how much they care.

By the time the noon hour rolls around, these volunteer workers will have completed several hundred community service projects in the Detroit Lakes, Callaway, Lake Park, Audubon, Cormorant, Frazee and Vergas areas, as part of the United Way Day of Caring.

The recipients of their generosity are seniors and disabled persons who are in need of a little extra help getting ready for summer.

'The majority of it (labor done by students, staff and other volunteer supporters) is yard work -- raking, washing windows, cleaning off flower beds, clearing out gutters, tilling soil in gardens to get them ready to plant," explained Luann Porter, executive director of the United Way of Becker County, which sponsors the annual event.

"It's the kind of work the seniors just can't do anymore, but the kids can get it done in a couple of hours," she explained.

The day typically begins with a kickoff program in the students' home school districts, which features a motivational speaker who helps get the students pumped up and ready to go.

Then it's off to the buses, which transport the volunteers to the homes where they will be working. Because the transportation routes need to be worked out in advance, the deadline for area seniors and disabled persons to submit projects for inclusion in the Day of Caring work schedule is this Thursday, April 30, Porter noted.

To sign up, those who have a project to add to the list are asked to contact the office of their home school district, or the Becker County United Way office at 218-846-7400. (Porter said, however, that the fastest way to get your project added to the list is to contact the school district directly.)

One of the keys to the success of the Day of Caring, Porter said, is the interaction between the students and the seniors they are helping.

"I think it's about the relationships that develop, I really do," she said. "The kids work hard, but when they are talking about it afterwards, they don't talk about how hard they worked -- they talk about what a good time they had with Mr. or Mrs. So and So.

"The kids really do feel good about helping others and seeing that smile at the end of the day (from the people they helped)."

After about four hours of work, the students and volunteers are ready to relax and enjoy an afternoon of fun.

"The seniors are invited to come in and enjoy some time with the kids as well, if they want to and are able to do so," Porter said.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454