Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–On Sept. 23, 20 teams consisting of 162 volunteers total came out to help area seniors through United Way of Muscatine’s annual Day of Caring. Though the size and scope of this year’s event differed from those in previous years due to COVID-19 prevention measures, the Day of Caring still connected volunteers from across the community to those who could benefit from their assistance.

In the past, United Way’s Day of Caring drew more than 400 volunteers together to help on a multitude of projects. However, in the interest of not spreading COVID-19, United Way decided that limiting groups of volunteers to 10 or fewer and forgoing large group events, such as the traditional kickoff lunch, would keep everyone involved safer.

United Way also adjusted the focus of their projects to promote safety. Rather than assigning volunteers to a variety of indoor and outdoor service projects, United Way only arranged outdoor cleanup and yardwork at the homes of seniors this year. This focus allowed volunteers to give seniors the assistance they needed to maintain the outside of their properties without having to worry about crowding volunteers into interior spaces or using specialized personal protective equipment to protect the health and well being of both the volunteers and those receiving help. Typically, assisting seniors with outdoor work represents a large number of Day of Caring projects. Senior Resources provided a list of 25 outdoor projects that area seniors requested assistance with, and United Way then matched groups willing to work in the morning, afternoon, or all day with each project to make sure they got finished.

On Sept. 23, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., small teams of volunteers from Calvary, CBI Bank and Trust, the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine, Grain Processing Corporation, HNI, HON, the Muscatine County Sheriff’s Office, Muscatine Power and Water, RE/MAX, Ruhl and Ruhl, and UnityPoint Trinity Muscatine Hospital tackled each of the projects United Way and Senior Resources listed, with several groups doubling up to complete multiple tasks.

From trimming trees, to spreading mulch, to painting and cleaning the outsides of homes, the Day of Caring Volunteers took care of many outdoor chores that will make a big difference in the lives of seniors who requested a helping hand. “It feels great because these seniors depend on us to clean their yards so they can stay in their homes,” stated United Way of Muscatine Program Manager Nichole Sorgenfrey. She added that United Way feels, “grateful for volunteers,” as they made doing each project possible.

Though this year’s Day of Caring took a slightly different approach to helping the community, it continued to make a large positive impact on Muscatine County seniors. Moving forward, Sorgenfrey hopes United Way of Muscatine can continue to adapt their various annual outreach events to keep all involved safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, United Way continues to plan for future events and has not announced details for its 2021 spring Student Day of Caring. COVID-19 mitigation efforts and school closures led them to cancel the event this spring.

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