James Pride, the maintenance supervisor at the Carver Community Center, has wanted to do some sprucing up at the center, but just hasn’t had the time.

Thanks to a group of volunteers made up of area residents and Central Middle School students, Pride had a little help Saturday in getting some of those chores finished.

“I was going to do those things,” Pride of said of weeding between the shrubbery in front of the center. “I want to get the weeds out and get some mulch in here. A lot of churches bring us flowers and this is a good place to put them.”

The group was joined by hundreds of volunteers who fanned out into the community as part of the United Way of Howard County’s Day of Caring Saturday.

Jason Spear, Central Middle School teacher, and a handful of students got a taste of landscaping duties at the center.

“We might have to open up our own business,” Spear said as he raked mulch.

“It’s been fun, and it’s helping out the community.”

Spear’s helpers included Shantana Hillman, 14, her sister, Tarkeysha, 9, and Spear’s daughter, Jadelyn, 10.

“I learned I don’t know how to pick out the roots,” Jadelyn said of the work.

Jennifer Coy of Central Middle School also was glad to chip in to help weed near the center’s entrance.

“I love to work in the yard,” Coy, 29, said as she smoothed out bedding screen over the mulch. “This is my first year; it’s been great. Everybody is so nice and friendly.”

Coy said when she received an e-mail from the United Way, Spear and her gathered up as many students as they could to help out.

“We wanted to teach them how to help out in their community, and they chose the Carver Center because it’s where a lot of them come.”

Area resident Ray Bingham helped out by washing the center’s vehicles.

“I’m just helping out in my community,” Bingham said. “The Carver Center does a lot of good things for the community and gives kids a nice place to go.”

The Day of Caring and blood drive also serve as the annual community campaign kick-off event for the United Way.

Volunteers began the day with breakfast at Kokomo High School and then set out on numerous projects, including painting, lawn work, washing windows and walls, and other chores at a number of locations throughout the community.

“We’re just trying to help out and give something back to the community,” said Dennis Sanders, who chipped in at the Carver Center.

“It’s a pleasure to be part of an organization that does something for the community, and it doesn’t cost anything.”

Across town, Sister Catherine Kelly of St. Joseph Hospital and about 25 other volunteers gathered at the United Way’s downtown office to give it a cleaner and brighter look.

“They have a public building and are always thinking about others instead of themselves, so we decided to spruce the place up,” Kelly said. “This gives the United Way a little care.”

Mike Fletcher may be reached at (765) 454-8565 or via e-mail at mike.fletcher@kokomotribune.com

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