AYER -- Page Hilltop Elementary School took part in United Way's Day of Caring as volunteers from several local businesses got together to help the school with various projects.

Businesses that get involved with UW allow willing employees to sign up for projects that have been accepted by UW. These volunteers pick a project they would like to help with on United Way's Day of Caring. This year, Page Hilltop was on that list of projects.

United Way projects at Page Hilltop included weeding the courtyard to make it accessible to students, and cleanup and restoration of the playground.

Principal Fred Deppe heard about United Way about a year ago. The group reached out to him saying that if there were any projects that need to be completed at the school, he should apply.

"I put in applications for both projects and both got accepted," Deppe said.

"United Way is great because a lot of times, schools don't have it in their budget to fix what needs fixing," United Way volunteer Lisa Whitcomb, of Parker Hannifin in Devens, said. "United Way is a way for volunteers to go out and get connected through different outreaches."

Whitcomb decided to join United Way as a way to meet people when she moved to Massachusetts from Kansas. She said United Way North Central Massachusetts is great because "they have a project for every day of the week if you want it!"

Katie Parks and Sherry Bresnahan, volunteers from Simplex Grinnell, said this was their first time working with United Way and they loved it.

"I think it's great," Bresnahan said. "A lot of people from our company were choosing church activities, but we wanted to do something for the kids and make them smile."

Parks added, "One little girl asked me what we were doing and she got so excited when I said we were re-doing the playground that she dropped to the ground in excitement." she said. "It's just nice to seem them smile."

Aside from providing the volunteers with materials they may need to finish the projects, the schools also provide lunch and water throughout the day. Many of the tools were donated by the town's DPW, Moore's Lumber and Hardware, and parents while lunch was donated by the Nashoba Club.

"We lucked out because Randy Clemence (a parent) has worked on the playground with me for a while, and George Holsombach (a parent) is an arborist by trade, so they are both helping to oversee both projects," Deppe said.

Deppe thanked Scott Rakip, owner of Nashoba Club, for his generosity as well as the other parents that spent the day helping the school.

"We will apply for this every year, now that we know about United Way and we will keep in touch," Deppe said.

"Although it is great that we are getting this work done by volunteers, we also think it's important for the kids to see adults helping out their community. We push the 'pay it forward' mentality and it's key to us that students are seeing that giving back is important."

Employees from the following businesses volunteered at Page Hilltop Elementary School on United Way's Day of Caring: Alternatives Unlimited, Inc., Clark Memorial YMCA, Commerce Bank, Fitchburg State University, IC Federal Credit Union, Parker Hannifin, Tyco Fire Production/Simplex Grinnell, You Inc.- Worcester and Workers' Credit Union.

To get involved with United Way, visit uwncm.org/History.php.

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