While people walked through Jackson Morrow Park Thursday catching Pokémon, Samaritan Caregivers was out catching volunteers.
The organization, which connects volunteers with senior citizens in Howard County and hosts events including Duck Derby, had a table set up in the park to spread the word about the organization and get people to sign up as volunteers.
The table was set up at a PokéStop, a place where players can get virtual items for the game and that can be seen through the Pokémon Go app. Rebekah Gillum, who works for Samaritan Caregivers and organized the event, placed lures, which attract extra Pokémon and as a result players, at two of the stops in the park.
Players could write their names on red, blue or yellow paper, signifying their team affiliation in the game. From the team with the most signups, a person was chosen to win a Duck Derby shirt. Players could also enter a separate raffle for a $10 Google Play card. According to the organization’s Facebook page, Quintin Inman, from Team Valor, won the Google Play card.
Players could also sign up to volunteer three times over the next 30 days to be entered into a drawing for a $20 Google Play card.
Rebekah Gillum, who works for Samaritan Caregivers and organized the event, said the gift cards were the biggest expenses for the event, but it was worth it to get people to volunteer.
“This is great,” Gillum said. “People have really taken to it, and I just think it’s wonderful.”
Gideon King volunteers for the organization and helped Gillum with the event Thursday. He helped her set up lures and inform people of the contests. The game was a good way to inform people of the organization, he said.
“It’s just something we don’t have to explain to people,” King said. “We say we’re from Samaritan Caregivers and we do Duck Derby. But if people don’t know what Duck Derby is, they don’t know who we are. But Pokémon Go? People are automatically interested. We see everybody from different age groups. We’ve seen children. We’ve seen adults. We’ve seen millennials.”
Two people signed up as volunteers, and one person signed their grandmother up as a client.
There are several ways to volunteer through the organization, all of which aim to help senior citizens in some way. Volunteers can write cards, make phone calls, visit with senior citizens, take them grocery shopping, mow their lawns and more.
Elizabeth Dupire plays the game in the park regularly, and stopped at the table to find out about the contest and the organization. She didn’t sign up as a volunteer, but said she’d like to look into it.
She has seen several businesses offer discounts for playing the game, but this was the first time she saw a volunteer organization take advantage of the game.
Samaritan Caregivers will host another contest on Friday for First Friday at the Kokomo Perspective. Gillum is encouraging all players to stop by, show support for their team and consider volunteering.