This year, more than ever, local nonprofit organizations, schools, parks and churches signed up to receive much-needed TLC they can’t afford. Already, there has been a striking increase in the number of requests for Day of Caring volunteers this year, with more than 1,600 requests to date compared with 1,200 requests in 2010 — and potentially more on the horizon.

United Way of Santa Barbara County’s 20th annual Day of Caring will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17. The deadline for volunteers to sign up is Sept. 10, but walk-ins will be accepted the day of the event.

After a kickoff breakfast at the Page Youth Center, 4540 Hollister Ave. in Goleta, and sponsored by Albertsons, individuals and teams from schools, employers, faith groups and families will volunteer at more than 60 local sites throughout Carpinteria, Goleta, Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez.

“Even as our economy improves, our community partners continue to be challenged by the great need for human care services,” said Randy Weiss, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust’s community relations officer. “We’ve already received a record number of Day of Caring work requests, and now need your help more than ever. With only a few hours of gratis labor, together we can make a world of difference right here at home. That’s the real power of volunteering.”

Volunteers of all ages are needed for a wide range of important projects, including painting the front porch at Casa Serena Women’s Recovery Home, participating in habitat restoration for the Santa Barbara Audubon Society, assisting with general cleanup at Girls Inc., doing landscaping at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and aiding in cleanup of many local beaches.

With last year’s volunteer hours estimated to be worth $250,000, the Day of Caring has a significant impact on the area where we live and work and is a testament to the spirit of volunteerism in our community.

Sponsors include ABC-Clio, Albertsons, Cox Communications, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, ParentClick.com and the Page Youth Center.

To sign up or for more information, click here or contact Day of Caring project manager Kerstin Padilla at 805.965.8591 or dayofcaring@unitedwaysb.org.

— Kerstin Padilla is an event and marketing coordinator for United Way of Santa Barbara County.