About 40 volunteers took part in the first United Way of Denton County Day of Action on Saturday.
Organizers said some volunteers signed up through their work, while others just showed up to help on improvement projects that included painting and landscaping work at Court Appointed Special Advocates of Denton County, Denton Christian Preschool, Ryan Elementary School and the Salvation Army chapel on Elm Street.
“I’m really happy more volunteers signed up and there were no major snags. ... Everything went as expected,” said Awo Eni, project manager and social media intern for United Way.
The event, which started out as a way to use social media marketing, may be the first of many Days of Action in the future, she said.
“I was looking at the worldwide United Way calendar of events earlier this year and the Day of Action was one of the activities listed on there,” Eni said. “When I saw what the Day of Action was, I started asking around the office if we participated, and soon enough, we were working on hosting our own Day of Action here.”
After helping paint the chapel at the Salvation Army, volunteer Amy Simon ventured over to the parking lot of the United Way headquarters, where an appreciation reception was held Saturday afternoon with live music, hot dogs and more than a dozen area nonprofits offering information on other service opportunities.
Simon said she has lived and worked in the community for five years and the Day of Action was a great way to get connected to other people.
“It’s something easy to do that can help and make an impact at the same time,” said Simon, the director of the Center for Leadership and Service at the University of North Texas.
Teddy Yan, marketing and outreach coordinator for the local United Way, said the event started as a pilot program last year with Target Distribution Center employees.
“Although today [Saturday] is called the Day of Action, some corporations want more time and some projects take more time, so we had things going on all week,” Yan said.
While most of the projects were in Denton, Eni said a weeklong drive for school supplies, paper products, toiletries and food items benefited nonprofits that reach all areas of the county.
“This is just our first year and most things were pulled together really quickly,” said Eni, a senior public relations major at UNT. “Some of the backpacks collected will go to Lewisville ISD.”
Organizers said the materials to help make the event a success came from donations, sponsorships and a $3,000 grant from the city of Denton. The Day of Action didn’t require any money to be pulled from the regular United Way annual budget, Yan said.
Everything at the event was donated, “from the musicians’ time to the table and chairs,” Yan said.
“This really is the community coming together,” he said.
MEGAN GRAY-HATFIELD can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.