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Day of Caring sets records
Hundreds of volunteers help United Way kick off campaign
Volunteers put together thousands of nonperishable meals to be distributed throughout the community and overseas as part of the United Ways annual Day of Caring event. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

FORSYTH COUNTY — The United Way of Forsyth County kicked off its 2014 campaign Friday morning in grand fashion with what executive director called their “biggest Day of Caring ever.”

“We have about 700 volunteers [and] 440 are here today packaging food- rice and beans and mac and cheese,” Ruth Goode said. “The rest of them are a scattered about the county doing other [community] projects.”

Volunteer Spencer Bennett of Academy Orthopedics described the effort as a way to help out and connect with the community

“It’s always nice to help fellow man,” he said. “Sometimes we don’t always have an opportunity to look around [and say], ‘What can I do to help.’

“I’ve already met some people that I’ve never met before, and [some] I worked with and some I grew up with and haven’t seen in years. It’s nice for everyone to come together.”

The main focus of event at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center was on the second annual Food Friday, where volunteers put together thousands of nonperishable meals to be distributed throughout the community and overseas.

“We’re packaging 60,000 meals today,” Goode said. “Forty-five thousand of those meals are rice and beans. They’re very nutritious.

“We’ll also be doing 15,000 meals of mac and cheese. We have 5,000 meals that will go to Tanzania … Other than that, we will have eight food pantries coming throughout the day and picking up the boxed meals for distribution right here.”

Volunteers formed an assembly line preparing, weighing, sealing, labeling and boxing the meals. After loading a box with 36 packets, or about 144 meals, each table would yell “box.” One member would then carry it to be sealed and stacked.

“Because we get into it and yell ‘box’ and some other things, it kind of gets everyone jazzed, kind of a competition almost,” said Robert Funk, who chairs the United Way’s board. “My team … has been like, ‘How are we doing against everybody else?’ Obviously, it’s all in good fun, but it gives kind of that air of a competition and fun.”

Help for the cause came from various businesses, churches and organizations.

“We’ve brought together a cross section of the community,” Funk said. “We’ve got everything from business groups [to] banks. We’ve got the local hospital Northside is here, UPS, Publix. We’ve got civic groups like Rotary [Club] and Civitan, as well as churches and just community groups of volunteers.”

As for the other projects, Goode said there were “almost 50 people at the United Way office here, and we brought in projects from some of the other nonprofits.”

“Some [volunteers] will be going to No Longer Bound, I think they’re doing some thrift store work for them, some will be going out to The Place [of Forsyth County], and I think they have some outdoor work and some thrift store work.”