Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 11, 2013

Volunteers invited to step up for 'Day of Caring'

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Calling all volunteers!

It’s not too late to sign up for the 18th annual Day of Caring, a community-wide volunteer event put on by the United Way of Northwest Michigan.

The Day of Caring encourages volunteers of all ages and skill levels to lend a hand with a wide variety of projects that range from worm wrangling at Carter’s Compost to spiffing up the Leelanau Christian Neighbors’ food pantry.

Volunteers are still needed in Kalkaska County to help stock “little lending libraries” — small hinged wood boxes that can be painted to replicate a caboose, log cabin, or whatever tickles the designer’s fancy. The miniature libraries allow kids to take a book and leave a book, said Susan McQuaid, director of the United Way’s volunteer center.

“My new boss, Ranae McCauley, she’s going out tonight with her son and digging the holes and putting in the cement and posts so they’ll be able to place the little libraries,” McQuaid said. “The inmates at Camp Pugsley made these. They’re going to be so cute!”

A total of 470 volunteers signed onto 68 different teams, making the volunteer effort the “biggest yet, biggest ever,” McQuaid said.

The event started 18 years ago with only 10 teams.

“Now it’s close to 100. It just fires you up,” said McQuaid, who has been running on adrenaline this week to pull everything together.

Five or six teams alone will work to build a pasture shelter and level pathways at the Reining Liberty Ranch, which uses equine therapy to help veterans who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.

“They have a ton of projects out there,” McQuaid said. “People just love to go out there anyway, with chickens and ducks and all the fun stuff.”

The event takes place on Thursday, but lots of projects need volunteers beyond this week, including beach clean-up at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, McQuaid said.

Many volunteers were granted time off their day jobs to work. Among them are a dozen employees of Huntington National Bank, a Day of Caring sponsor. They’ll work on a Habitat for Humanity home in the Williamsburg area and serve lunch to volunteers at the United Way office, said Mike Witkop, a Huntington senior vice president and United Way board member.

“We’ll likely be wrapped up by about three or 3:30, and they can get couple of hours off to recuperate,” he said.

Witkop said potential volunteers don’t have to be handy or highly skilled.

“Two years ago, I painted a porch for Madeleine’s House, I think,” he said. “We scraped the porch, the flat part. ... It wasn’t skilled work, believe me.But it looked nice when we were done, and everybody felt good about it.”

The Day of Caring kicks off at the Open Space at 8 a.m. with breakfast for registered volunteer teams. For more information, please email Susan McQuaid at 947-3200, ext. 205 or To sign up, please go to