1,500 volunteers lend a helping hand; United Way Day of Caring has 57 projects.

Byline: Paula J. Owen

The United Way of North Central Massachusetts 15th annual Day of Caring yesterday brought out volunteers and schoolchildren wishing to lend a hand to those in need.

A total of 1,500 volunteers - 500 adults and 1,000 children - helped out with 57 projects, said North Central United Way spokesman William A. White.

On the list of projects this year were 25 nonprofit agencies, including local shelters and food pantries, churches, senior centers and city parks.

Volunteers donate their time and skills for maintenance projects that normally cannot get done because of lack of money and manpower.

Volunteers painted the inside of Fitchburg's City Hall, improved the bike trail at the Riverfront Park, cleaned up at Sholan Farms and helped with landscaping and painting in area schools.

"What amazes me is the turnout and when the community asks how they can help," said Mr. White. "That includes individuals and companies that are located here. They really respond in an overwhelming way.

"At the start of the day when the volunteers meet at the Four Points Sheraton, you get a real sense of that energy and the excitement in the air."

He said the yearly event is also a great way for people to get to know one another, meet new people and reconnect with the community.

Richard D. Palmer, executive director of the Montachusett Regional YMCA and chairman of the United Way's Day of Caring Committee the last 15 years, said there is a push each year to get more children involved.

"We're trying to get the kids involved to give them a sense of volunteerism for when they get older," said Mr. Palmer.

As part of this year's event, a food drive was held with drop-off sites throughout the area.

Volunteers...

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