More than 4,500 volunteers met at the Logansport Salvation Army before leaving to complete nearly 105 different projects throughout Logansport for Live United Day on Friday morning.
The 2012 Live United Day has been carefully planned for one year, said Joyce Mayhill, Executive Director of United Way of Cass County.
“The Live United day of action has, if possible, gone even more perfectly than planned,” Mayhill said. ”A lot of the projects in the community take skilled labor and we’ve had wonderful volunteers step up and help with that.”
Some of the project locations and events for Live United Day were work at Logansport’s Girl Scout camp, a mobile food pantry near Third Street, a community health fair, Huston Park, trails throughout town, all Cass County schools including Fairview Elementary, downtown Logansport and various residences that needed home projects.
Joyce Ameen, a board of director for Live United Day, said the community health fair offered free screening to the public. The nurses and people who donated their time for the health fair are trained professionals that make up an expert team, Ameen said.
The health fair included a blood drive hosted by the American Red Cross, free screening where individuals could not only be tested but could have someone go over the results with them, an area for 10-minute exercises that the community could participate in, a booth that showed the heart of someone healthy and someone who smokes, and many more sections.
”These people donated their time because it’s the right thing to do,” Ameen said. “It’s a chance for local residents to get healthy and set good examples for their children.”
Along with the fair, other projects were available in the public. More than 10 volunteers spent the day putting together playground equipment for the students and community surrounding Fairview Elementary School.
Chris Hess, Fairview Elementary principal, said the playground wouldn’t have been possible without the help of United Way.
"My kids need this,” Hess said. ”We’ve been raising money for three years and it’s wonderful to see it coming together on Live United Day. The weather is still great for the playground and we’re thrilled that the community came together to make this happen.”
Another project in the community on Friday was a mobile food pantry manned by 20 volunteers and at least 10 All Saints student volunteers.
The food pantry, funded by United Way, was available to residents in the community who met specific criteria. It had items such as meats, breads, potatoes, basic condiments, fruit and laundry soap, according to Elaine Zeider of Area Five.
“Volunteering for the food pantry is has been a great project for the kids,” said James McNeany, principal of All Saints. “The students don’t usually get the opportunity to see who they are helping and today they can.”
Julie Byrd, Interim Donor Relations Coordinator for United Way, said that it’s important that the community realize that Live United Day isn’t just a day of action. It’s the official Kickoff of the United Way Campaign.
United Way raises funds for 10 member agencies and two community support programs, but United Way also looks at root problems and needs in the community to prevent duplication of services, Byrd said.
“It all boils down to organized caring,” Byrd said. “Just like Matt Lewellen says, the projects we complete on Live United Day are making memories for people.” Lewellen was Live United Day chairman.
Byrd noted that Joe Johnson, 2012 United Way campaign chairman, had announced that of the $600,075 campaign goal, donors have given $420,000, or 70 percent of the goal.
“We’ve raised a lot of money for our campaign,” Byrd said. “However, it’s important that the community remembers that there is still work to be done to reach the final goal.”
• Amie Sites is a reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.