By Anna Sago,
Like so many other important events, the spread of COVID-19 forced the postponement of the annual “Week of Caring,” a collaborative effort by the United Ways of Northeast Tennessee.
The project draws over 1,800 individual volunteers and 10,000 hours of service in the community each year. This year’s events were canceled in June, but were recently “reimagined” and held during the week of Sept. 28.
As a part of the reimagined Week of Caring, “this year, we asked businesses and community members across the region to ‘Reduce, Re-wear and Repost,’” said Becca Sutphen, senior director of community impact for United Way of Greater Kingsport.
She said that to reduce exposure to COVID-19, local United Ways had pivoted the popular event to an online social media campaign and drive for volunteers to find future opportunities on the regional website, www.volunteer-united.org.
Previous years’ Week of Caring volunteers were asked to re-wear their vintage United Way T-shirts, and community members were encouraged to post photos on social media under the hashtags #LiveUnitedKPT and #WOCReimagined to virtually highlight the longstanding partnerships that Week of Caring facilitates between local businesses and nonprofits.
Some organizations were able to find socially-distant, outdoor activities to continue the hands-on spirit of the original event.
“We’re grateful to the Northeast Tennessee Master Gardener Association for helping with a weeding project and conducting some outdoor gardening education with Girls Inc. of Kingsport, and City of Kingsport and Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium employees [for their] plan to complete a fence replacement at Small Miracles Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Inc.” Sutphen said.
In addition to encouraging volunteers to “Live United” and give back to the community during this reimagined “Week of Caring,” the United Way of Greater Kingsport (UWGK) is also in the midst of its annual fundraising campaign.
“Our theme this year is ‘United We’re Strong,’” said Executive Director Danelle Glasscock. “In 2020 we have faced unparalleled challenges.
“The tough work that will be needed to help communities recover is the very work United Way does every day: we help feed those facing food insecurity; we prepare children for success in school, work and life; we connect those in financial distress with resources to pay bills and stay in their homes. United Way takes the long view and is in it for the long haul, bringing people together to help communities recover, rebuild and thrive,” Glasscock said.
In this month’s first report, the UWGK reported a total of $1,477,894 raised to date, or 49.2% of its $3 million goal. Individuals or companies interested in making a donation can do so at www.uwaykpt.org/give. Checks can also be mailed to UWGK, 301 Louis Street, Suite 201, Kingsport, TN 37660, and those with further inquiries may direct them to the United Way’s Kingsport office at (423) 378-3409, ext. 14.
The original article by Anna Sago can be found here.