Traditionally a daylong event jam-packed with projects and teams of volunteers, the Tulsa Area United Way has had to find a new way to do its annual Day of Caring in light of COVID-19.
The solution: Instead of one day, the event will become three days spaced out over several weeks, each with a different focus, officials said.
Rebranded “Days of Caring,” the first event, set for Aug. 28, will be a food and blood drive.
The next, Sept. 18, will focus on career and job-readiness. The final event on Oct. 9 will involve hands-on improvement projects.
Officials said the multi-day approach will help address the community’s most pressing needs while prioritizing the safety of all involved.
Alison Anthony, Tulsa Area United Way president and CEO, said the pandemic, while complicating it, has made the annual effort more critical than ever.
“Many people who have never asked for help are seeking assistance for the first time, whether it’s due to lost income, medical costs or other hardships caused by the pandemic,” she said.
Days of Caring will start with a food drive in hope of meeting what is an immediate need for many, she said.
By receiving help with groceries, “people in need are able to dedicate their resources to other bills, such as paying rent and utilities,” Anthony said.
The food drive, scheduled for 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 28, will offer 15 food drop-off locations across six counties.
Additionally, several of those sites, including at the Tulsa Area United Way, 1430 S. Boulder Ave., will have blood donation trailers.
The most needed food items are canned fruits and canned protein, meal kits and peanut butter.
All volunteers will be masked and taking social distancing precautions.
Donors will also receive information about registering to vote and completing the census.
Anthony said, “We encourage as many people as possible to get involved with our first Days of Caring event and really demonstrate what it means to care for our community.”
Sept. 18 will be all about helping people find jobs, including assistance with searches, updating resumes and improving interview skills.
Oct. 9 will look more like the traditional Day of Caring, but with smaller groups and a focus on more urgent projects.
Volunteers will be able to choose between in-person, virtual and remote projects. Social distancing will be required, and group sizes limited.
In 2019, more than 1,000 companies and 30,000 donors helped raise over $26 million. The funding goes to support United Way partner agencies in Creek, Okmulgee, Osage, Rogers, Wagoner and Tulsa counties.
For more information on Days of Caring, go to tauw.org. A list of food donation sites, guidelines for drop-offs and other details are available there.
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