United Way Day of Caring pays big dividends


— A rake, hoe and shovel leaned against a pickup truck backed up to the Janesville Community Day Care Center on Ruger Avenue.

Dead evergreens and weeds pulled by J.P. Cullen & Sons employees filled its bed.

While two of the company's employees laid brick pavers, others worked on a basement bathroom and another drove to Cullen headquarters for a ladder to trim tree branches.

The Cullen employees were among 482 people from 29 local businesses who volunteered Wednesday during United Way's Day of Caring. They worked on 47 projects for 33 United Way partner agencies in Rock County.

Theresa Marshall, executive director of the day care center, was thrilled to have volunteer help.

"This is an old building, we're a nonprofit, and I have no building maintenance person. So, I have to make things wait for this day," she said.

The day care center has been part of Day of Caring since the event started, Marshall said.

She already was compiling a list of projects for next year.

"We never have money or someone able to do building projects, so this is key. Things in our building just wear out, and finishes always wear off," she said.

Caleb Loschen, who had helped remove old paneling in the day care center's bathroom in preparation of painting and installing a new base trim, was enjoying his first Day of Caring experience.

"It's a good thing—fun and nice—and helps give back to the community," he said.

Marshall said if she had to pay for work the volunteers were doing, it probably would have cost about $1,000, not including project supplies.

"I feel like we are so blessed with all this support in the community, and every year the quality of the people's talents and expertise are perfect for the projects we've waited for them to do," she said.

Wednesday also was the 2012 fundraising campaign kickoff for the newly formed United Way Blackhawk Region. The goal is to raise $2.8 million—$1.3 million in Janesville and $1.5 million in Beloit—the same as last year when goals were met, said Steve Kinkade, president.

The Blackhawk region is the unification of the United Way of North Rock County and the Stateline United Way.

"We're optimistic we can sustain that level of fundraising while transitioning to the new, united organization," Kinkade said.

The Pacesetter campaigns conducted before the campaign kickoff raised $479,855.

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