September 18, 2008 — Certainly, random acts of kindness are beautiful things. But well-organized and productive acts of caring can make a huge difference in the life of a community.
That's the theory behind the United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area's Laurence E. Richardson Day of Caring. The 17th annual event, held Wednesday, drew more than 1,200 University of Virginia employees, who joined about 1,500 of their neighbors from area businesses and agencies, in setting aside their regular jobs for a day — or just a few hours — to work for the common good.
Local schools and nonprofits provided a list of about 250 projects that needed attention. Often, they were tasks that they just couldn't get around to, or don't have the personnel or expertise to tackle: mulching, cleaning, painting, filing, building, bushwhacking, even repairing bikes. Sometimes, the tasks were as simple as reading to schoolchildren or entertaining seniors.
"I think people really enjoy getting out into the community and working with their officemates," said Careen Waterman of U.Va.'s Community Relations Office, who organized the University's participation in the event. "They enjoy the teamwork, and like that they are making a difference."
The U.Va. Department of Athletics will honor Day of Caring volunteers Sept. 26 at the Cavaliers' volleyball match with Georgia Tech in Memorial Gym. Volunteers should have received a flyer with instructions on how to receive one discounted $3 admission ticket. Volunteers will also be honored at intermission.