by Kellie Cochrane
On Friday April, 26, nearly 500 students from across Battle Creek reported to Full Blast Water Park where they headed into the community for a day of volunteering. The effort is an annual United Way HandsOn event during national volunteer week called Youth Day of Caring. This year’s event was the largest yet, with more students and agencies participating than ever before.
Youth Day of Caring brings together students from all of the area schools for both the planning and the execution of the event. A committee of students, with representation from each school, starts meeting in the winter to plan everything from a venue to approving the projects. Nonprofit agencies across Calhoun County provide volunteering opportunities, and also give tours of their site and explain their organization’s mission to the students.
Projects include a wide range of activities, from landscaping to reading to children, the students are all assigned to projects that allow them to give back to their community. Students are assigned to the projects at random, so they’re able to meet and mingle with students from different schools. Each school provided staff members to help assist in supervision, and everyone pitched in and had a lot of fun.
After the projects were wrapped up, the students came back to Full Blast for lunch and to reflect on their day. United Way President and CEO Mike Larson addressed the students to thank them for their hard work, telling them: “Whether you believe it or not, you’ve really made a difference in our community today.”
Students also heard from retired Col. Frank Walker, who spoke passionately about his love for the Battle Creek community and his pride in seeing the next generation step up to take care of it. Before leaving for the day, students wrote down reflections from the day on Post-it Notes to post on the walls for everyone to see. We were truly inspired by this group of young people who clearly know what it means to LIVE UNITED.
For more information or pictures from Youth Day of Caring, check out the Facebook page!