STEUBENVILLE - Jeff Saunders has a theory about helping his community.
"I can't always give money," the Steubenville resident said. "But I can give of myself, and a lot of times, that's what they need."
Saunders was one of about 80 volunteers taking part in Jefferson County United Way's 2012 Day of Caring Friday. His crew, from AEP-Cardinal Plant, was assigned to shed repairs and yard work at Day Care Depot, 601 Market St., one of nine work sites throughout the county. He said he's been doing it for "at least 15 years, I guess."
HELPING OUT — The United Way of Jefferson County’s Day of Caring saw more than 80 volunteers on Friday help agencies and organizations in need of help. AEP-Cardinal’s Jerry Williams, a Wintersville resident, hammed a loose nail on a storage barn at Day Care Depot at 601 Market St. -- Linda Harris
"I enjoy it," Saunders said. "It's a rewarding experience, anytime you can give a little piece of yourself to help."
At a kickoff breakfast Friday morning at the YWCA, United Way Campaign Chair Tony Mougianis characterized it as a day "celebrating all of you."
"Our volunteers are the reason Jefferson County United Way meets its goal," he added, pointing out that this year's goal is $440,000. "At last count we were at about 40 percent of our goal. We're in good shape, but we want to be at 100 percent before the end of the year."
United Way Interim Executive Director Amelia Taggart told the group it's "truly about helping people," and invited the volunteers to "come out and serve, not just today but any day."
"It's giving back to the agencies, doing little services throughout the community that nonprofits just don't have time or manpower to do," she said. "Day of Caring is just one day. We recognize the need and send volunteers, but the agencies can always use volunteers throughout the year."
Day of Caring Chair Anita Jackson, meanwhile, reminded volunteers they were "doing something today that will alleviate somebody else's pain, you can really bask in that."
Crews in Jefferson County were tasked with passing out food at WEBA in Amsterdam; washing and waxing the Head Start bus for Jefferson County Community Action Council; trimming shrubs, cleaning gutters, removing ivy and painting the eves at the YWCA on North Fourth Street; distributing information for the Red Cross; helping with material preparation and sewing banners at United Way; painting and cleaning windows at the Fourth Street Health Center; cleaning floors at Neighborhood House; and reading to youngsters at East Garfield Elementary School.
"We not only have 12 individuals here from the Cardinal plant who are willing to give their time, but they found out a couple days ago we didn't have the mulch we needed (for the playlot), so they're donating all the mulch, delivering it and putting it down," Family Service Executive Director Kathy Cardiff said.
And inside the building, other volunteers were busy painting.
"We would have had to pay an exorbitant amount to get the entire inside of the building painted without them," Cardiff added.
AEP-Cardinal's Gary Beebe, a Wintersville resident, was among the first to arrive at Day Care Depot and unloaded a truckload of mulch by himself while he waited for the rest of his crew to arrive.
"I'm glad to do it, glad to be able to help out," he said. "The next load of mulch, we should have a couple more guys here to help."
Participating agencies, organizations and businesses included A Caring Place, Child Advocacy Center; AEP-Cardinal; AEP-Steubenville; A.L.I.V.E. Shelter; the American Red Cross Jefferson County Chapter; Apollo Professional Cleaning; Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Jefferson County; city of Steubenville; Eastern Gateway Community College; Family Service Association; Franciscan University of Steubenville; Huntington Bank; FirstEnergy Corp., Sammis Plant; Jefferson County Community Action Council; Fourth Street Health Center; Mingo Junction Fire Department; Mingo Junction Social Services; Neighborhood House; RSVP of Jefferson County; Trinity Health System; the Herald-Star; Steubenville Wal-Mart; Sexual Assault Help Center; Smithfield Friends Church-Food Pantry; United Way of Jefferson County; Valley Converting and WEBA Food Pantry.
Sponsoring the kick-off breakfast at the YWCA were AEP-Cardinal Plant; Eastern Gateway Community College; FirstEnergy; Howard L. Bowers Co./L.J. Bowers Inc.; Steubenville Wal-Mart Supercenter; Super "C" Market & Deli; Upper Ohio Valley Building & Construction Trades Council; Valley Converting; and Wintersville Trophy Shop/B&B Screen Printing.