In conclusion, United Way’s Youth Day of Caring once again successfully united the community through giving back. Students were able to connect with each other while helping the environment. It is important to shed light on positive activities that our youth partake in such as this.
Written by Mona Sehgal | ValpoLife.com
Students across Northwest Indiana gathered together at Taltree Arboretum & Gardens on the morning of Saturday, April 18, for the United Way Youth Day of Caring. Youth Day of Caring is a joint effort on behalf of both Lake Area United Way and the United Way of Porter County.
United Way of Porter County President Sharon Kish stated, “Today we have several students from across the region volunteering at Taltree. Students come from clubs, teams, and classes to do their part to clean up the environment.”
The students divided into groups and participated in a variety of volunteer projects. These included trash pick up, raking the pavilion, painting animal sheds and cages, painting parking lot stakes, brush pick-up, invasive species pulling, and wood chipping. Often times, these tasks are taken for granted, so the students did whatever they could to clean up the area for the upcoming summer season.
Lake Area United Way Community Engagement Manager Megan Sikes said, “The greatest thing for me is seeing the interaction between students from both Lake and Porter County. A lot of times these kids don't get to collaborate and support one another. This event provides them with the chance to meet new people. "
Employees from Taltree led the students through the project and educated them on the different species that call Taltree home. Although the students may not have known each other before, they bonded with students from different areas through the act of volunteering.
United Way of Porter County Director of Volunteer Engagement Mackenna Schon said, “This year Youth Day of Caring falls on Global Youth Service Weekend. There are students volunteering all across the world this weekend, so this is how we're celebrating here in Northwest Indiana.
Schon is also the coordinator for the Power of Youth Council of Porter County. The Power of Youth offers students a chance to become advocates on issues that affect teens in their community. They also do community service projects, build leadership skills, have access to a larger network of like-minded teens, and the opportunity to learn from the United Way of Porter County. The Power Youth council is made up of students across Porter County. These students have dedicated a lot of time and effort into planning this year’s Youth Day of Caring.
“These students are truly living out the spirit of ‘living united’,” Angie Williams, Lake Area United Way Community Impact Director, said. “I’m thrilled to see the younger generation's enthusiasm when it comes to volunteering."
After the students finished their project, the reconvened for a picnic style lunch. As the students dined and mingled amongst each other, a local band called the “The Concept” took the stage and performed both original songs and covers. Josh Fabugais, James Healy and Paul Magurany are the three members of the band. They are former students of Boone Grove and Wheeler High School. Sponsors of the event include The Times, BP, Vale Park Animal Hospital, Porter Health Care System, Kramer & Leonard, Inc., and NIPSCO.