In an effort to raise the next generation of volunteers, Missouri Slope Areawide United Way Day of Caring has family friendly community projects as part of the 18th annual event Wednesday.

“We’re really trying to get younger kids volunteering in hopes it will become lifelong for them,” said United Way Community Impact Manager Nicole Peske.

Century Baptist Church, 205 Colt Ave., will have activity stations for young children that will include tying fleece blankets for American Red Cross and Charles Hall Youth Services, packing duffle bags for kids in foster care so they don’t have to carry their belongings in garbage bags when moving to a new home, and making art projects to be placed inside backpacks as part of United Way’s backpack program that provides weekend meals to 930 local kids in need.

At the Great Plains Food Bank, kids can help by bundling loose produce for the organization’s food packs, counting out food items like potatoes to be bundled in sacks, Peske said.

“I love it because it gets families that want to participate involved and this ensures there are projects that are age appropriate,” Peske said.

Other projects include cleaning, organizing, and painting at a local domestic violence shelter, restoration work at Buckstop Junction, cleaning up trees at the Dakota Zoo, painting the stage at a local theater, building picnic benches and preparation work in book rooms for the upcoming school year.

The event will get underway with the campaign kickoff breakfast at Shiloh Christian School beginning at 7:30 a.m. The day will conclude with a volunteer appreciation party sponsored by The Pier from 3:30-6 p.m.

As of Monday, 1,092 volunteers had signed up to participate, a number than higher average, “which is excellent because we had a bigger need this year,” Peske said.

Participants will be working on 54 projects this year, compared to 44 last year, and more volunteers are urged to join, with registration open through the day of the event. Sign up online at http://www.volunteerbisman.com/.

“As Day of Caring becomes bigger and bigger (nonprofits’) application numbers are getting higher,” Peske said.

There will even be a number of projects done by 67 volunteers in Linton - like painting the American Legion building, staining picnic benches and repainting at the football field.

In Bismarck-Mandan, more than 100 local businesses are supporting the event through sponsorships, in-kind donations, providing lunches and offering employees a paid volunteer day.

Reach Jessica Holdman at 701-250-8261 or jessica.holdman@bismarcktribune.com

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