MUSCATINE, Iowa–In 2020, United Way of Muscatine and their many supporters had no less interest in helping people than in years past. However, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented them from performing some of the large group or indoor projects they would typically perform throughout the community on the Annual Day of Caring. Though the pandemic has not fully abated and this year’s Day of Caring still looked a little different than it traditionally does, United Way welcomed the opportunity to start getting back to normal and to helping many throughout the community take care of projects they could not handle by themselves.
Sept. 29, about 212 volunteers signed up to donate either half or all of their day to assisting United Way. Volunteers came from a wide array of local businesses, including Bandag, the Diversity Service Center of Iowa, Grain Processing Corporation, HON and HNI, Phelps, and UnityPoint Trinity Muscatine Hospital. Though fewer people participated than in years past, United Way of Muscatine Program Manager Nichole Sorgenfrey attributed this drop to some companies still having some or all of their staff working remotely.
The reduced number of volunteers did not prevent those who signed up from completing many necessary tasks. Overall, volunteers completed 42 projects, including helping older adults with yard maintenance or home repairs; assisting Muscatine Center for Social Action with some of their current home renovations; lending a hand with upkeep at MCSA’s main location; supporting the City of Muscatine Parks and Recreation Department by spreading mulch at Weed Park, repainting the skate park, and doing work on some picnic tables; tidying up the yard at the Muscatine Art Center; and furthering the Friends of the Fairport Fish Hatchery’s work to prepare the site of the old pump house and two corresponding trails for educational use. Several volunteer groups that worked for the whole day completed as many as two or three separate projects.
As volunteers gave back to the Muscatine community in many ways, Sorgenfrey reflected on how much she valued the opportunity for the event to return to a more hands-on format. “It’s seeing people come to volunteer in the community for the community, and a lot of the organizations and seniors really appreciate our help, so it’s special for us,” she said.
Though the United Way Day of Caring addressed many needs in Muscatine, it represents just one of several different ways people can support United Way’s mission this fall. Beginning the first week in November, United Way will seek volunteers to rake the yards of older adults through their fall leaf cleanup program. Their annual Coats for Kids drive, in conjunction with Community Action of Eastern Iowa, has already started and they encourage people to reach out to them for donation opportunities. On Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, they will collect monetary and non-perishable food and supply donations for each of the school locker programs (such as the Muskie Locker program in Muscatine). If you would like to get involved, Sorgenfrey encourages you to reach out to her directly by calling (563)-263-5963 or by emailing [email protected].