United Way helping other organizations during ‘Day of Caring’ in Valdosta

Updated: Oct. 16, 2020 at 6:41 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Nonprofit organizations in South Georgia celebrated Day of Caring on Friday.

It’s usually held every year in August but was pushed back because of the pandemic.

Day of Caring held in Valdosta.
Day of Caring held in Valdosta.(WALB)

“It’s so important because the agencies need the work and it’s also good to get individuals on the facilities and campuses of these agencies, so they are learning and connecting. And seeing where some are for the first time and learning about their missions,” said Michael Smith, executive director of Greater Valdosta United Way.

Smith said they have nine projects going on.

Bright and early on Friday, volunteers, companies, businesses and government officials were out helping organizations with services that they can’t afford.

Some of the help provided Friday included clean up around the property, painting, pressure washing, fixing fences and more.

“The pandemic has changed everything with state budget cuts, and so many fundraisers have been canceled. Most of our agencies have been missing out between $40,000 and $100,000 worth of fundraising money because the fundraisers that have happened haven’t been as successful, and missing out on volunteers because it’s hard to get people out that are feeling safe,” said Smith.

Smith said there would normally have over 300 volunteers out but this year, it’s been trimmed down to about 100.

Close by, another group was helping fix the front lawn at the Salvation Army.

Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson volunteered on Friday. He said Day of Caring is a rich tradition in Valdosta.

“It’s a hands-on (event) for the community, one they get a first-hand look at the charities and what they mean to the community. And then, two, they get to help and then walk away with a source of pride,” said Matheson.

Salvation Army Director Chris Thomas said they’ve been strongly impacted by the pandemic and have been working harder than ever to help those struggling.

Day of Caring held in Valdosta.
Day of Caring held in Valdosta.(WALB)

“People need emergency financial assistance and food, we’ve seen a certain increase there. We’ve had more people come to see us than what we’ve had in the past, almost like maybe double if not more of what we would be serving in this particular time,” said Thomas.

Thomas said they have more expenses with the need for PPE, and added hours at the shelter. Thomas also said they’re opening on days when they used to be closed because those that are homeless need somewhere to go. They also have increased services of food and clothes.

All the organizations hope to raise awareness on Day of Caring and encourage the community to give back.

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