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Helping out: Day of Caring slated for May 7

Detroit Lakes High School students participated in Day of Caring 2013, raking leaves for those who can’t. Area schools will be participating in this year’s Day of Caring on May 7. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

Every year on the first Wednesday in May, thousands of staff and students in the Becker County high schools of Detroit Lakes, Lake Park-Audubon and Frazee-Vergas get together with local volunteers to show their community spirit in a tangible way — by helping others.

Organized by the United Way of Becker County, the annual Day of Caring has been going on since the turn of the century.

“It started when Jim Anderson was our president in 1998,” said Luann Porter, United Way executive director. “Wells Fargo was the only participant at that time. It wasn’t until 2000 that it started with the students. This will be the 14th Day of Caring at Detroit Lakes High School.

“Frazee Vergas was the next to come on board in 2002, and Lake Park-Audubon started in 2003,” she added.

On Wednesday, May 7, a total of 2,200 volunteers will converge on the communities of Detroit Lakes, Callaway, Lake Park, Audubon, Frazee and Vergas — or at least, “the Becker County side of Vergas,” Porter said to perform more than 300 community service projects.

“The projects are all done for senior citizens, the disabled and active military families,” she added. “What the volunteers are involved in doing is raking and cleaning yards, getting them ready for spring and summer; washing windows; cleaning out flower beds; putting down mulch, trimming bushes and trees; and even planting flowers, if weather permits.

“I know some painting has been done as well,” Porter said — though she’s quick to add that all Day of Caring projects are strictly outdoor tasks.

The community service projects are typically wrapped up around noon, and during the afternoon hours, the students typically spend a little time working on “mass projects” around the school grounds, then spend the  rest of the afternoon enjoying games and other fun activities.

Though the vast majority of the volunteers involved in Day of Caring come from area school districts, several community volunteers get involved as well, Porter said — and there’s still time for local residents to join in on the fun, she added.

“Anybody can join in, they just need to let us know if they’re interested so we can get them assigned to a team,” Porter said.

The beneficiaries of the volunteers’ labor are not the only ones who get something from the experience, she added.

“It’s about doing something for somebody who wouldn’t be able to do it themselves. There’s a rapport built up between that person (the beneficiary) and the volunteers… and they’re always so grateful for the help.”

Anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer for Day of Caring can contact Luann Porter before noon on May 5 by calling her at 218-846-7400  or by e-mail at

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