LEOMINSTER -- Hundreds of volunteers spent Thursday helping the nonprofit community with maintenance and other projects as part of the United Way Day of Caring.

United Way of North Central Massachusetts, which hosts the annual event with a kickoff breakfast at the Four Points Sheraton, also uses the day to officially launch its annual campaign drive.

"We have 60 projects from 44 nonprofit organizations nearly 500 volunteers from local companies, as well as over 1,500 students participating in their own school-based projects," said Abbie MacCallum from Bemis Associates in Shirley. MacCallum is this year's United Way Day of Caring chairwoman.

MacCallum said the projects included helping nonprofit agencies with yard work, painting and other initiatives. "These are projects that the agencies aren't able to complete due to fiscal constraints, so they look forward to this day."

"In addition to the volunteers, it is our Day of Caring sponsors that help make the day possible for the agencies. In particular, SimplexGrinnell has been an incredible partner and once again was our major sponsor this year," added MacCallum.

Several companies were praised for participating in the daylong event: SimplexGrinnell in Westminster sent 100 volunteers; Bemis Associates, 36 employees; Fitchburg's Simonds International, 25; Heywood Hospital, 24; and Fitchburg State University had 44 employees take part.


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Participating schools included: Ayer-Shirley Regional High School, Fitchburg State University, Gardner High School, Leominster Public Schools, Monty Tech Regional High School, Mount Wachusett Community College, and Shriver Job Corps at Devens.

Before heading out to their projects, Doug Petersen, president and CEO of Workers' Credit Union and this year's campaign chairman, urged the community to help create 365 Days of Caring.

The annual campaign drive supports 35 programs in the area of health, education and income. This year, United Way of North Central Massachusetts will deliver over 120,000 services to people in the 19 communities it serves.

"United Way's annual campaign drive is about creating opportunities for a better life for all," said Petersen. The local nonprofit raises its money through corporate donations, employee giving through workplace campaigns and contributions directly from the community.

Following completion of the projects, participants attended a barbeque at the Polish American Citizens Club in Gardner.