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Mary Bethune Academy Reaps Benefits from Day of Caring

Written by Alyssa Wilson, University of Lynchburg Bonner Intern 

For the past 30 years, the United Way of Central Virginia has hosted Day of Caring, a day in which companies from the greater Lynchburg area take off from the work day and volunteer that time to assist local nonprofits. 

One of these nonprofits, who has been a long term partner of United Way CV, is the Mary Bethune Academy, a children’s care center for children aged six weeks to five years old. 

Mary Bethune Academy has a positive reputation across the area, with lots of generational influence and appreciation. Over the past 30 years, companies have come to Mary Bethune time and time again to volunteer on the Day of Caring, due to the joy that this organization brings. 

Karen Fitzgerald, Director of Office Operations at Mary Bethune, says, “It’s an inspiring experience because you have people who are giving time out of their day to come spend time with you and devote their time to you, and then a lot of them are going right back to work.” 

In years past, Day of Caring projects at the Academy have varied from building fences and painting walls to cleaning toys and surfaces in the building. “We’ve had just about everything you can think of done at our center, and it’s been great,” says Fitzgerald. 

Tabitha Abbott with United Way says that 120 nonprofit organizations have been asked to sign up for projects to be done, and about 100 volunteers are currently signed up. However, there are 600 volunteer slots available, so help is definitely still needed. 

This year, Mary Bethune Academy has several outdoor projects that they are hoping to accomplish. Projects include landscaping like pulling weeds and blowing leaves off the property. They are also hoping to clean out several sheds and send items to new homes. 

One of the biggest projects the childcare center is wanting to finish is the repair of the gazebo door, which serves as an outdoor classroom for the older classes. 

In the middle of Day of Caring, United Way CV is hosting a celebration for volunteers at the Bank of the James Hillcats stadium, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.. “It is our way of celebrating the day with these volunteers, while also feeding them lunch,” says Abbott. The lunches have been donated by Sodexo for many years of Day of Caring and the Hillcats have always worked with the organization to use the stadium as a donation through the city. 

This year, since it is the 30th annual Day of Caring, the celebration will look a little different. There will be a DJ, 30 door prizes, inflatables and interviews with some of the nonprofits that United Way will be partnering with. 

“Without Day of Caring, we would not have the power to get everything done that we need to. It allows us to get things done that we, ourselves would not otherwise be able to get to on top of everything else,” says Fitzgerald. 

Individual volunteers and companies can sign up through this link. Nonprofits who would like to participate in Day of Caring with any projects that need to be done can sign up here

To learn more about Mary Bethune Academy visit their SHARE Greater Lynchburg profile. 

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