What are you doing on March 16? The city of Wichita and the United Way of the Plains are inviting you to take part in and donate at the 316 Day of Caring, a date selected because 316 is Wichita’s area code, often used as a verbal shorthand for the city’s name. It also conveniently falls during Wichita Public Schools’ spring break.
This will be the first year of what organizers hope will be an annual event. It will be held downtown in the Century II breezeway between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
“For me this is so much more than just giving things to people who are in need,” said Abel Frederic, United Way’s vice president of community impact. “This is about generating that pipeline of people who want to be generous and love all the people of this city.”
Opportunities for involvement involve donating blood, clothing, food and time:
- To donate blood with the American Red Cross, sign up here in advance.
- Giving the Basics, a nonprofit that distributes personal care items to schools and other organizations, will collect basic hygiene products such as bar soap, shampoo, deodorant and toilet paper.
- The Salvation Army will collect new or gently used winter clothing.
- United Methodist Open Door will collect food needed to restock its pantry. Desired items include mac and cheese, ramen and peanut butter.
- Girl Scout Troop 40786 will be selling cookies.
- Additional pop-up volunteer opportunities will be available on site.
“This is about really harnessing the caring power of the community,” Frederic said. “316 – it represents our area code, it represents our city and it should represent the people that we care about the most.”
The idea started with Bryan Frye, District 5 City Council member, who saw other cities doing similar events and wanted to bring that spirit to Wichita. He pitched the idea to United Way of the Plains, and their president, Pete Najera, was for it.
“We’re starting small this year with a few specific volunteer and donation opportunities, but we hope it continues to build in size and scope,” Frye said in a press release.
Frederic said anyone reluctant to get involved should see this as an opportunity to make a difference to someone else without huge effort.
For example, someone could simply contribute hygiene products to Giving the Basics.
“I have a son. He’s 19 months (old). I can go and get diapers for him anytime that I want. Not everyone can do that, and it’s not because they are bad parents, or lazy, or bad people. It’s just that these are hard times for some people,” Frederic said.
United Way of the Plains and the city of Wichita plan on making this an annual event. They want to make it bigger and better every year to provide more opportunities to give back to the city and the people who live here.
People with questions about the event may contact Amy Hawley, United Way of the Plains volunteer center manager, at email@example.com or 316-267-1321, ext. 4217.
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