READING, Pa. — More than 260 volunteers rolled up their sleeves and tackled projects as part of the Berks County United Way of Berks County's Day of Caring on Tuesday. It's one of the largest single-day volunteer events around.
Some of the volunteers helped move hundreds of items into classrooms at the Opportunity House's Second Street Learning Center in Reading. They also helped organize the rooms.
Some of the volunteers were from Reading Truck Body; others represented the logistics company Triose.
"Even pre-COVID, there has always been this need to help in the community, and we're so fortunate in Berks County to have companies that allow their employees to come out for the day to volunteer," said Darby Wiekrykas, the United Way's volunteer engagement program manager.
Officials with the Opportunity House said they couldn't have done the work without the help of the volunteers.
This was one of more than 20 projects volunteers took part in on Tuesday.
Some cleaned up the garden at Safe Berks at South Third and Chestnut streets and packed lunches and organized the clothing bank at New Journey Community Outreach on South Sixth Street.
Others helped to spruce up the Aulenbach Cemetery, which straddles the border between Reading and Mt. Penn. They spent hours clearing the brush and cutting the grass around the cemetery's more than 20,000 graves.
Organizers said they have a good group of supporters who turn out for the Day of Caring year after year.
"This is a great opportunity for agencies and organizations to implement projects that take a lot of manpower, and they just don't have that, so it is an opportunity that we can do something for the good in one day," said Leslie Davidson, the United Way's relationship manager for leadership and individual engagement.
Across town, a new community garden also underwent some improvements as part of the Day of Caring. Volunteers helped install garden beds at the Oakbrook Garden in southwest Reading.
Before all of the events, the United Way of Berks County announced its campaign goal for the year ahead. It's hoping to raise $10.5 million by Nov. 17. Nearly $2 million has been raised so far.
"We know there is more work to be done as the community recovers from the challenges presented by the pandemic, and United Way's annual campaign provides stability for crucial programs and services," said Tammy White, the United Way of Berks County's president. "It's only by working together that we can make sure families have a stable place to live, food to eat and have support in place during these challenging times."
Samvir "Sam" Sidhu will assume the roles on July 1.
Dick Ehst, the recently retired president and CEO of Wyomissing-based Customers Bank, and his wife, Angela, are serving as the United Way campaign's co-chairs.