DUNKIRK - If you are out and about this week in Chautauqua County, you may see a familiar T-shirt adorned by many. The annual United Way's Community Caring Week kicked off Monday. Throughout the week, volunteers from various employers will be volunteering in the community.
This is the 11th year Community Caring Week has been held. It is held at the end of July where volunteers go out into the community - in groups or as individuals - and do various tasks for organizations from landscaping to cleaning, to delivering meals and serving food.
This year, approximately 90 volunteers will be working with Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals On Wheels, Chautauqua Adult Day Care, Westfield Community Kitchen, Literacy Volunteers, Hospice Chautauqua County, Chautauqua County Rural Ministry, Lake Shore Children's Center, Westfield YWCA, Boys and Girls Club, American Red Cross and the United Way. Volunteers will be from SUNY Fredonia, Lake Shore Savings Bank, National Grid, Evans Agency, Nestle Purina and Walmart.
"It's just a great week. I really enjoy looking forward to this, getting out and helping," said Patti Fickelscherer, administrative assistant. "If (people) can't donate they can help out, or even see where their money is going (that is donated)."
Community Caring Week used to be a one-day event. According to United Way Executive Director Deborah Tederous, employers would give employees one day off from work to volunteer. When the economy started to slow, Tederous said it was hard for employers to let huge groups have one day off and the day of caring evolved into a week of caring.
Fickelscherer said volunteers will be painting floors at the Chautauqua County Rural Ministry, helping out with a golf tournament in connection with the Boys and Girls Club, delivering meals with Meals on Wheels, cleaning and organizing bookshelves at Literacy Volunteers and doing landscape work at various locations including the United Way. Each volunteer will receive a T-shirt that says "Live United" on the front and "I don't just wear the shirt. I live it" on the back.
On Monday, volunteers were working with Meals on Wheels delivering meals. Volunteers at the Chautauqua Adult Day Care were going to wash and wax vehicles but that was rescheduled for later in the week due to the rain.
Fickelscherer said this year, with the launch of a new volunteer website, volunteers were able to choose their assignments. Volunteers were then able to go to www.volunteerwny.org, recently launched by the United Way to search for volunteer opportunities.
"I let all our agencies know ahead of time (about Community Caring Week), then post it on our website," Fickelscherer said.
The sponsors for the week are Community Bank, Cattaraugus Bank, Lake Shore Savings Bank, Evans Agency and NRG. Sponsors helped cover the cost of the T-shirt as well. If anyone is interested in volunteering throughout the rest of the week, contact the United Way Office in Dunkirk at 366-5424. The United Way is always looking for volunteers year round. If interested in volunteering in the future, visit www.volunteerwny.org.