Students Power Volunteerism

Student volunteers prime a fence at Leila Arboretum in preparation for a mural.

Nearly 500 Calhoun County high school students deployed Friday morning from Full Blast in Battle Creek, buzzing with energy and ready to get to work for the ninth annual Youth Day of Caring 2017.

They returned several hours later – smiling, dirty and in some cases splattered with paint – having set a powerful example of volunteerism.

One of the key community roles of United Way is bringing together people of all ages to volunteer and make a meaningful, measurable impact. By starting with young people, United Way helps instill a commitment to volunteerism that lasts a lifetime, said Ben Nyhoff, volunteer engagement associate at United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region.

“As much as it’s about having an impact immediately, Youth Day of Caring (YDOC) sets the stage for volunteers to change the story in our community for the future,” he said.

The students, representing Battle Creek Central, Calhoun Area Career Center, Calhoun Community, Harper Creek, Lakeview, Pennfield and St. Philip, divided into teams of various sizes and tackled 28 projects at more than 20 locations throughout the Battle Creek area. Many of them returned from their assignments eager to find more ways to volunteer.

Projects included priming a fence that will be come a mural at Leila Arboretum; sorting clothing at Charitable Union; spending time with seniors and memory care patients; painting fences at Cheff Center; labeling cans and creating mosaics at Food Bank of South Central Michigan; and spreading mulch at Sprout Urban Farms.

United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, HandsOn Battle Creek and participating schools coordinate YDOC each year.

To see the day through students’ eyes, see the photos they posted on social media, captured in a Storify post.

Check out more photos of the morning’s events by visiting our Facebook page.

Inspired? Find out how you, too, can make a difference.