SCRANTON — More than 300 volunteers turned out Thursday to lend helping hands during the United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties’ annual Day of Caring.
The 25th Annual Nancy Jackson Memorial Day of Caring activities, followed by the 12th Annual Kickoff Clambake at Cooper’s Seafood House in Scranton, mark the start of the 2019-20 United Way Campaign.
The annual Day of Caring was renamed in memory of longtime volunteer Nancy Jackson, who began the program in 1994 and died in 2016.
“Nancy’s here with us in spirit,” United Way President/CEO Gary Drapek told the crowd at Cooper’s. “Nancy will always be a part of Day of Caring.”
Earlier in the day, volunteers wearing gray T-shirts with “Live United” and the United Way logo descended on the United Way on Jefferson Avenue in Scranton and 15 partner agencies in the area to undertake 35 projects, including construction, cleanups, painting, office work and client interaction.
Crews painted a conference room in the Arc of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Meadow Avenue building in Scranton and did landscaping at group homes.
The Arc, which serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, has been participating in the Day of Caring since its inception, said Arc Director of Program Operations Patrick Quinn.
“The Day of Caring is a great event,” Quinn said. “Whenever you can get a large volunteer force like this to knock out projects — we get an enormous amount of work done.”
Other volunteers were dispatched to reorganize and spruce up Angel’s Attic food and clothing bank at United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Community Services Building on Olive Street in Scranton.
“It’s great right now because we have a lot of help. We usually don’t have that many volunteers,” said Angel’s Attic Manager Mariely Colin.
“Seeing these many volunteers just taking their time and helping us clear everything, (and) make everything easy for our clients, it’s heartwarming.”
Volunteers visiting recipient agencies also get “to see where their United Way contribution is really making a difference,” Quinn said.
Volunteers said they were excited to participate.
Robby Young of Gentex Corp. took pains while painting a room inside the ARC building to make sure his paintbrush did not nick the ceiling molding.
Michael Jarosh and Jayme Zator, both of Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials, painted interior walls of a large vacant space at Meals on Wheels Community Services of NEPA on Wyoming Avenue in Scranton.
Kathy Ruggiero of Citizens Savings Bank bagged carrots for distribution at Angel’s Attic.
“Anything we can do to help,” Ruggiero said.
Later, several hundred volunteers and contributors attended the clambake kickoff, where Drapek outlined the cumulative effect of the Day of Caring. Over the past 25 years, 12,500 volunteers have given 64,800 hours of service and completed 1,100 projects valued at over $3.5 million.
“That’s amazing when you think of a community our size,” Drapek said. “Twenty-five years of people going out into this community, helping those who need help the most.”
Furthermore, the amount of money the local United Way raised and distributed in the community over the past quarter-century topped $97.1 million, Drapek said.
He also introduced the new campaign chairman, Wayne Bank President/CEO Lew Critelli, who is the first general campaign chairman from Wayne County since the county joined the local United Way organization about a dozen or so years ago, Drapek said.
Critelli announced a $3.2 million goal for the current fundraising campaign.
“The need, once again, is extremely, extremely great in our area,” Critelli said. “But you know, the only thing greater than the need is the ability of Lackawanna and Wayne counties to pull together, to pull together and to support those that are in need.”
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