Students from 10 area schools and organizations, about 300 in all,  are taking part in the 11th annual Youth Day of Caring. Volunteer groups, ranging in size from five to 75 high school students are spending  Friday on a variety of projects benefiting nonprofit agencies and improving community conditions.

Battle Creek Central High School juniors Brandon Cole and Alayshiona Hoover have been part of the Youth Day of Caring before.  Brandon says he's helped out at the Food Bank, and Ganton Senior Communities and this year he'll be at SAFE Place.  Alayshiona volunteered at Operation Christmas Child and this year will be at the Food Bank.   Both Cole and Hoover say one of the benefits of the program is a chance to get connected to students of other schools.  "A lot of times we're separated, and it just feels good  to work together to help out the community., " said Cole.  Hoover said , "You get to see the other youth and how they think and how  they'd like to see our community change."

Youth Day of Caring is coordinated by United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region (UWBCKR) and participating schools.  Jamie Rugg,  Director of Engagement for United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, says  “It’s inspiring to see students show how much they care for our community by taking action to make it better.”  She says 75 students will be working at the Leila Arboretum.

Student volunteers gathered at Full Blast on Friday morning, then departed in teams to tackle 19 projects across the community.  Projects include sorting food and clothing donations, painting, creating community murals, and spending quality time with seniors and memory care patients. After the projects are completed, volunteers return to Full Blast to share their experiences with each other.  

One of the key community roles of United Way is bringing together people of all ages to volunteer and make a meaningful, measurable impact. Rugg said she hopes Youth Day of Caring is a first step in a lifetime of volunteerism for participants.

Rugg, Cole and Hoover were guests on Friday's 95.3 WBCK Morning Show with Tim Collins.