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Giving back on the Day of Caring

Published: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 8:48 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 12:25 p.m. CST
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(Doug Oleson - doleson@shawmedia.com)
Madeline DiNatale, 15, right, and her sister Jackie, 13, paint over graffiti on the side of a garage in DeKalb during the 2013 Day of Caring on Thursday, June 20, 2013.
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(Doug Oleson - doleson@shawmedia.com)
Jordan Schrader, 5, DeKalb, does his part by hosing down a car at Oak Crest Retirement Center in DeKalb during the 2013 Day of Caring on Thursday, June 20, 2013.
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(Doug Oleson - doleson@shawmedia.com)
Tana Knetsch (left) and Babs Koch helped deliver 10 meals for Meals on Wheels during the 2013 Day of Caring on Thursday, June 20, 2013.
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(Curtis Clegg - cclegg@shawmedia.com)
Xochitl Orozco of Peoria stains a wheelchair ramp at Opportunity Houe in Sycamore during the 2013 Day of Caring on Thursday, June 20, 2013.
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(Curtis Clegg - cclegg@shawmedia.com)
Tracy Lynch of Kingston, left, and Brittany Musgrave of DeKalb apply mulch to a flower bed at the Sycamore History Museum during the 2013 Day of Caring on Thursday, June 20, 2013.
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(Curtis Clegg - cclegg@shawmedia.com)
Cassandra Roach of DeKalb washes windows at Pay-It-Forward House in Sycamore during the 2013 Day of Caring on Thursday, June 20, 2013.
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(Doug Oleson - doleson@shawmedia.com)
Kayla Simmons of Sandwich vacuums a car at Oak Crest Retirement Center in DeKalb during the 2013 Day of Caring on Thursday, June 20, 2013.
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(Curtis Clegg - cclegg@shawmedia.com)
Madeline DiNatale, 15, of DeKalb serves plate of mostaccioli during a community meal at the DeKalb Community Center during the 2013 Day of Caring on Wednesday, June 19, 2013.
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(Curtis Clegg - cclegg@shawmedia.com)
From left, Joseph Williams, Heather Hahn, Jason Podschweit, 14, and Elise Podschweit, 12, all of DeKalb, paint wooden cut-outs that are used to combat child abuse at the Family Service Agency in DeKalb during the 2013 Day of Caring on Thursday, June 20, 2013.
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(Doug Oleson - doleson@shawmedia.com)
Tia Durst, 8 helps weed the Rain Garden at the DeKalb Area Women's Center in DeKalb during the 2013 Day of Caring on Thursday, June 20, 2013.
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(Curtis Clegg - cclegg@shawmedia.com)
Joseph Williams of DeKalb paints a wooden cutout that is used to combat child abuse at the Family Service Agency in DeKalb during the 2013 Day of Caring on Thursday, June 20, 2013.
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(Curtis Clegg - cclegg@shawmedia.com)
Daniel Gudino, 11, of DeKalb washes windows at Pay-It-Forward House in Sycamore during the 2013 Day of Caring on Thursday, June 20, 2013.
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(Doug Oleson - doleson@shawmedia.com)
Sarah Crost (left) and Diane Breunlin clear out weeds at the DeKalb Area Women's Center in DeKalb during the 2013 Day of Caring on Thursday, June 20, 2013.
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(Curtis Clegg - cclegg@shawmedia.com)
Jason Schoenborn and Dave Leifheit of Sycamore shovel mulch at the Sycamore History Museum during the 2013 Day of Caring on Thursday, June 20, 2013.

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Kishwaukee United Way

About 270 volunteers tackled dozens of projects in the Kishwaukee United Way's Day of Caring on June 20. Visit www.kishwaukeeunitedway.org to donate online to the Kishwaukee United Way or to see their list of partner agencies. You will also find information on how to volunteer.

You can also donate by mailing a check to P.O. Box 311, 115 N. First St., DeKalb, IL 60115.

DAY OF CARING

DeKalb Area Retirement Center-Oak Crest

DeKALB – Four volunteers, including 5-year-old Jordan Schrader, vacuumed and washed the cars of 15 seniors residing at Oak Crest Retirement Center. Northern Illinois University student Kayla Simmons chose the project "because it seemed like a good thing to do."

Oak Crest community events coordinator Joan Launer said 270 people live at the faith-based, not-for-profit community for people 62 and older, which was founded in 1980.

"We are very appreciative," said resident Sally Stevens, who has lived at Oak Crest for 21 years.

– Doug Oleson

Neighborhood Watch

DeKALB – Frank DiNatale and his teenage daughters, Madeline, 15, and Jackie, 13, painted over graffiti on the garage of Don Johnson for the Neighborhood Watch Group in eastern DeKalb.

"This was just something I knew needed to be done," Neighborhood Watch Group volunteer Peggy LeMieux said, noting the group just formed in May and is still in the planning stage. She said it will primarily watch the Fifth and Sixth street neighborhood. "We're just trying to keep the neighborhood safe."

Johnson said he scrubbed the graffiti off five years ago, but someone repainted it.

– Doug Oleson

DeKalb Area Women's Center

DeKALB – Weeding and fixing signs were among the tasks at the DeKalb Area Women's Center. There were 28 volunteers, many of them members of Bill Cho's United Taekwondo in Sycamore and the Kishwaukee Women's Network.

"We are able to do this and we like to help," volunteer Ann Janecek said.

In promoting women's culture, the nonprofit DAWC addresses a variety of issues important to women through programs, displays, lectures and other means.

– Doug Oleson

Meals on Wheels

Ten volunteers drove their own cars to deliver meals for Meals on Wheels, which delivers 280 meals a day, five days a week, to seniors and disabled individuals throughout DeKalb County. Six other volunteers helped clean up.

"It only takes a few minutes and it helps a lot of people," volunteer Tana Knetsch said.

"It's a good thing to do," fellow volunteer Babs Knoch said, adding that she's volunteered at least three years.

Meals on Wheels, which has been part of the Voluntary Action Center since 1987, served 56,802 meals in 2008, all of which are prepared by a registered dietitian. Pick up locations are in Sycamore, Sandwich and Genoa.

– Doug Oleson

Voluntary Action Center

DeKALB – Nancy Hicks, senior luncheon program director for the Voluntary Action Center, could not serve community meals without the help of volunteers.

"I do get calls from different groups, and then I have a group of steadfast volunteers," Hicks said. VAC serves meals on the first, third and fifth Wednesday of every month to anyone in the community, regardless of ability to pay. On June 19, about seven Day of Caring volunteers prepared and served meals to 78 diners at the DeKalb Senior Center at 330 Grove St. in DeKalb.

"It's an economic need, a socialization need and sometimes it's even a nutritional need," Hicks said.

– Curtis Clegg

Family Service Agency

DeKALB – Elise Podschweit, 12, of DeKalb has the right idea about volunteering.

"It's like karma: what goes around comes around," Elise said as she painted a cutout that will be used by the Children's Advocacy Center to raise awareness about child abuse.

"We want to give children a safe place to talk about what may have happened to them," said Holly Peifer, director of the Children's Advocacy Center, which is part of the Family Service Agency.

Elise was one of four volunteers to paint the cutouts.

"Being a nonprofit and always relying on funding from others, it's awesome to have people volunteer to do things that need to be done," Peifer said.

– Curtis Clegg

Opportunity House

SYCAMORE – Xochitl Orozco drove to DeKalb County from Peoria to participate in the Day of Caring.

"Our manager is from DeKalb, so we came here with her," Orozco said. U.S. Cellular was one of eight businesses that organized groups of employees to volunteer around the community.

Orozco and her co-workers stained a wheelchair ramp at Opportunity House in Sycamore, which is dedicated to "improving the quality of life for children, families and adults who face various obstacles to independent living," according to its website.

"We have sort of a priority list of different needs we have here around Opportunity House. In order to provide the best services for our clients, we rely on volunteers to save money," program director Diana Hulst said.

Hulst said that several Opportunity House staff members volunteered at other sites in the community on the Day of Caring.

– Curtis Clegg

Pay-It-Forward House

SYCAMORE – Cassandra Roach brought her son along to volunteer.

"This is my fifth year and it is my son's first. It's a good way to get him into volunteering," Roach said. She and her son, Daniel Gudino, 11, washed windows at Pay-it-Forward House, which provides lodging, physical and emotional rest to out-of-town guests who are visiting hospitalized patients in DeKalb County.

While Roach and Daniel washed windows, other Day of Caring volunteers washed and folded laundry. Since Pay-it-Forward House is essentially a bed-and-breakfast, the work load is constant.

"Groups contact us to see if we need anything done and it's rare we don't have anything to do," said Pay-it-Forward House volunteer Dixie Zander, who organizes volunteers throughout the year.

– Curtis Clegg

Sycamore History Museum

SYCAMORE – The gardens at the Sycamore History Museum, like any garden, require regular maintenance.

"With the garden stuff there are always ongoing projects that require a lot of people," executive director Michelle Donahoe said.

Ron Johnson, Master Gardener with the University of Illinois Extension, oversaw a group of volunteers that worked in the flower gardens and the kitchen garden at the museum. The volunteers weeded, tilled and applied mulch.

"We are here with Kohl's," said Tracey Lynch of Kingston as she and co-worker Brittany Musgrave of DeKalb applied mulch to a flower bed in front of the museum's main building. Five Kohl's employees participated in this year's Day of Caring.

- Curtis Clegg

Other projects

In addition to the projects above, Day of Caring volunteers assisted at the following local agencies:

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