« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Published July 21 2011

Called to action: United Way volunteers help with Minot relief efforts

FARGO - Courtney Buskirk and her Rasmussen College co-workers planned on lending a hand to the community Wednesday. They just didn’t know they’d be lending quite so much sweat.

“It’s a long and hot time,” said Buskirk as she loaded a box of pasta at the Great Plains Food Bank, “but it’s worth it.”

She was one of nearly 200 volunteers who turned out for the United Way’s Day of Action, one of two major days of communitywide mobilization for the organization’s local chapter. The volunteers spread out over 19 local agencies and worked on projects ranging from remodeling the kitchen of Youthworks to painting the fence at the YMCA (and braving the scorching sun in the process).

The Day of Action is designed as an entry point for people who want to get involved but aren’t sure how, said Kristina Hein, marketing and brand management director for the United Way of Cass-Clay.

“People want to give; they want to volunteer,” she said. The idea is for the organization to create ready-made opportunities to do so on a specific day.

This year, the day fell just as organizations such as the food bank were in the midst of helping Minot residents recover from severe flooding that ruined homes and displaced residents.

“Day of Action came at the right time this year,” Hein said. “Obviously, we didn’t plan for that.”

Marcia Paulson, director of marketing and development at the food bank, said the arrival of about 40 volunteers – a mix of Rasmussen employees and the junior varsity and varsity Fargo South cheer teams – was a big help amid the influx of goods bound for Minot. The organization has gathered about half-a-million pounds of supplies for Minot, and expects to send 15 to 20 truckloads that way over the course of the recovery effort.

“It’s huge,” she said. “It’s like the heavens opened up when Day of Action landed here.”

The goal for the day was to pack 1,000 boxes of nonperishable foods and 1,000 boxes of cleaning supplies – a big need for flood-damaged homes.

“I think we’re going to get really close,” Paulson said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502