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United Way Holds Day of Caring

LAWTON Okla_ Over 250 volunteers walked the red carpet in Lawton Friday. The United Way kicked off its 19th Annual 'Day of Caring' event with a Hollywood-themed campaign breakfast.

Friday wasn't about glamour; it was about giving back to the community.

The Day of Caring matches up volunteers from businesses with agencies and schools that need help. This year, United Way partnered with the Chamber of Commerce's Education Committee to help the schools.

The Chamber reached out to United Way, because they knew United Way would have a group of volunteers that wanted to help in the community. The volunteers worked on 31 projects. 22 were at Lawton Public Schools, and the other nine were at partner agencies such as the Lawton Food Bank and the Salvation Army.

Campaign Manager Gilmer Capps said Friday is about helping out agencies with things they can't get done on their own budgets or time.

"These companies are very generous to volunteer their employees today to take a day off and come and work and to give back to the community," Capps said.

Companies that contribute to the United Way let some employees volunteer Friday instead of working. Executive Director of Lawton United Way Katie Noffsker said the way they match volunteers with projects makes the largest impact in a single day than you would find anywhere else.

"Hopefully after today, folks decide they want to continue volunteering and will continue putting for effort with the agency of their choice," Noffsker said.

Painting, landscaping and building book shelves were just a few of the projects being worked on at the schools. At the Salvation Army, they sorted toys. At the Food Bank, they helped organize the shelves.

Volunteers told us why they feel it's important to give back to the community.

"Lawton is my home," Charlene Ayala said. "If I ever needed an agency, I can always come back, knowing that I was able to help and volunteer and that I've had that comfort zone."

"I think that it's important that we realize the community has a lot of needs," Shelly Fields said. "It's really just a feel-good deal to get out and be able to do something for someone."

This was the second year the event has been known as the David Hegwood Day of Caring. Hegwood was a long-time volunteer who died last year after a battle with leukemia.

United Way officials say this year's group took on their largest number of projects ever, but they also had their highest number of volunteers.

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