OSKALOOSA — More than 40 people from businesses all across Mahaska County braved the rainy weather to volunteer at several local projects Friday to take part in the United Way's Day of Caring.

The annual event brings in volunteers to help charities and non-profits wherever they need it.

Mahaska County United Way Director Michella Friesen coordinates all the volunteer work teams at each of the sites.

“COVID-19 concerns originally had us trying to arrange primarily outdoor sites, because it’s much easier to do social distancing,” said Friesen, “but now, because of the rainy weather, several of those projects will be postponed for another day instead, even though we still have a good number of volunteers available to help at various sites today.”

The Day of Caring started in 2002, a year after the 9/11 terror attacks, and the day has become a local tradition that hasn't been forgotten by those who step up to help each year.

Volunteers were hard at work at the Hospice House, the Mahaska County YMCA, the Lake Keomah YMCA youth camp shelter house, the St. Mary’s Parish Center and The Ecumenical Cupboard.

“We’ve enlisted the help of volunteers for the past 13 years,” said Friesen. “and a lot of the volunteers are part of teams from area businesses, so we are excited to see groups of volunteers who are participating from places like Cargill and MidAmerica Energy Company.”

Ann Frost and Mahaska Chamber & Development Group Administrative Assistant Michelle Kent helped coordinate the luncheon preparations, which started at St. Mary’s Parish Center. The mid-day lunch was served at Penn Central Mall to all volunteers who participated.

Roughly 2800 pieces of mail were prepared for USPS mailing and nearly 1400 interoffice mailings to local schools, city and county offices, Musco and William Penn University.

Volunteers who participated in Friday’s work included Cargill-Eddyville, Hairitage Salon, MidAmerican Energy Company, MHP Foundation, Mahaska Chamber & Development Group, Imagine the Possibilities, Rotary Club of Oskaloosa and Edward Jones.

Mahaska County YMCA CEO Matt Larson and Kim Stutting were coordinating the work at the Lake Keomah YMCA camp shelter house, where Friday’s largest group of volunteers from MidAmerican Energy Company completed the following:

• Built and installed a new ping-pong table

• Dismantled and removed old table

• Cleaned and sanitized all tables/chairs and shelter house

• Painted all tables and storage cabinets

• Painted accent walls

• Pulled all benches from outside to store indoors for winter

• Winterized the shelter house

• Repaired broken cabinets

• Built 4 new archery targets

• Pulled up canoes from lake for storage

The following groups will complete their activity in the next few weeks, since it was too wet to complete them Friday: Edward Jones, Mahaska Chamber and Development Group and Nutrien Ag Solutions.

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