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United Way Day of Caring brings 3,000-plus volunteers into the community

By Michael Mroziak

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-982395.mp3

Buffalo, NY – More than 3,000 people from over 100 businesses or government agencies took part in the United Way's Day of Caring, working on nearly 150 projects throughout the county Wednesday. Volunteers offered their help to more than 100 agencies, cleaning up sites, making capital improvements or just spending time with the agency's clients.

"It's just a great way to get together with people that we work with, give back to the community, do something different for a day and just be a part of Buffalo and the community," said Erin Brody, a pharmacist at Wegmans, one of the participating companies.

Brody was among the volunteers cleaning up and repairing the grounds at Concerned Ecumenical Ministries in Buffalo. Her co-worker, Pat Fisher, says by taking part in Day of Caring, volunteers are actually helping not-for-profit agencies fulfill their respective missions by allowing them to focus more of their limited dollars on their work, and not on their buildings.

"There's really two heads to United Way," said Fisher. "Obviously people making donations, but people also giving their time. That means just as much because for a place like C.E.M. to get all this work done would, quite frankly, cost a lot of money."

As for the United Way's annual fundraising effort, that is just getting underway. The Day of Caring also marks the official start of the agency's annual campaign. Michael Weiner, president of the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, says they've taken steps to maximize the dollars intended for not-for-profits.

"We've reversed a 10-year trend, a negative trend in campaign performance, and we've just announced recently that we're eliminating pledge processing fees of 13%, so not-for-profits will receive more of the resources that are committed to their organizations," said Weiner.

The goal of this year's campaign will be announced next month, said Weiner.