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Tuesday, March 26 , 2019, 2:34 pm | Partly Cloudy 63º

 
 
 
 

Thousands of Volunteers Pitch In for United Way of Santa Barbara County’s Day of Caring

Teams descend on Santa Barbara Zoo, Pilgrim Terrace, Yanonali Community Garden and other sites in massive community cleanup

Cottage Health employees converge on the Santa Barbara Zoo to help clean up the zoo’s miniature train tracks during Saturday’s annual United Way of Santa Barbara County Day of Caring. Click to view larger
Cottage Health employees converge on the Santa Barbara Zoo to help clean up the zoo’s miniature train tracks during Saturday’s annual United Way of Santa Barbara County Day of Caring. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

More than 1,400 volunteers donated their Saturday during the United Way of Santa Barbara County’s 26th annual Day of Caring, the largest, single-day volunteer event in the county.

After a morning breakfast, community members of all ages broke off into teams to tackle various tasks and service projects in Santa Barbara, Carpinteria and Goleta. Last year, projects were completed at 50 work sites throughout the county, generating improvements valued at $300,000, according to United Way officials.

The Day of Caring is a nationwide effort by United Way to support public service agencies and nonprofits by linking teams of volunteers to improvement projects.

Equipped with gloves, gardening rakes and smiles on their face, 15 Cottage Health employees spruced up the Santa Barbara Zoo. The beautification cleanup included raking leaves and removing encroaching landscaping from around the zoo’s miniature railroad tracks.

“Having the volunteers help with gardening frees us up to do other types of maintenance, and they are helping maintain the tracks,” said Chris Craven, the zoo’s train operation supervisor.

“We are a nonprofit, too, and it’s helpful because we can spend time doing other tasks at the zoo. It’s also great to see other members of the community.”

Cottage Health has been participating in the annual Day of Caring since 1998. This year, the county’s largest health-care provider had volunteers at two sites.

Cottage Health had two teams of employees working along the South Coast as part of the 26th annual United Way of Santa Barbara County Day of Caring on Saturday. Click to view larger
Cottage Health had two teams of employees working along the South Coast as part of the 26th annual United Way of Santa Barbara County Day of Caring on Saturday. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

“It’s a great way for people at Cottage Health to get together and put names with faces, and a great way to bring back to our community,” said Shawn Hodges, the Quality Value Analysis Team project manager at Cottage Health.

“Cottage is all about community support. We like to go to different sites each year.”

Volunteers across the county helped with painting, cleaning, repair work, landscaping and outdoor duties.

Gardening projects took place at Santa Barbara’s Pilgrim Terrace residential community on the Westside and the Yanonali Community Garden on the Lower Eastside. Groups also tackled a restoration project at the Habitat for Humanity store in Goleta and painted a mural at Harding University Partnership School in Santa Barbara.

“Day of Caring gives residents of all ages and from all stages in life the chance to pay it forward by giving their time and energy to organizations and community spaces in need,” said Steve Ortiz, president and CEO of United Way of Santa Barbara County.

“Our goal is to help finish projects that would normally take months to complete.”

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Cottage Health’s zoo crew after they volunteered at the United Way of Santa Barbara County’s 26th annual Day of Caring. Click to view larger
Cottage Health’s zoo crew after they volunteered at the United Way of Santa Barbara County’s 26th annual Day of Caring. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

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