Winnipeg high school students show they care at 11 community agencies.

The annual United Way Youth Day of Caring is a chance for youth to contribute to and learn about our community.

Youth volunteers outside the MERC on Friday before leaving for their volunteer shifts.

Youth volunteers outside the MERC on Friday before leaving for their volunteer shifts.

About 120 Winnipeg high school students embarked from the Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre (MERC) on Friday to volunteer at 11 area non-profit agencies for the annual United Way Youth Day of Caring.

Youth United council members Ryan, Emily, and Kelvin greeted youth with smiles and shirts.

Youth United council members Ryan, Emily, and Kelvin greeted youth with smiles and shirts.

Youth United council member Emily Kroft welcomed youth into the MERC gym with a smile and a t-shirt. The university student said the youth were excited and happy to be part of the day.

“It’s awesome for all these young people to be volunteering,” Emily said.

Youth United council member Taylor McNulty guides youth through a workshop to help them consider what they care about in their community.

Youth United council member Taylor McNulty guides youth through a workshop to help them consider what they care about in their community.

A United Way Day of Caring is an opportunity for school and workplace groups to partner with a United Way agency or other non-profit organization to lend a hand on a project that contributes to community development, renewal, and pride.

The annual Youth Day of Caring is not only a way for young people to contribute, but it’s a chance for them to learn about the important work happening at social agencies doing front-line work to make our city better every day.

After choosing volunteer projects youth took a little time for ice-breaking and introductions.

After choosing volunteer projects youth took a little time for ice-breaking and introductions.

At the West Broadway Community Organization (WBCO), a community renewal and development organization, several youth helped prepare communal growing plots in the Spirit Park Community Garden.

Youth cart the tools needed to volunteer at the Spirit Park Community Garden in West Broadway.

Youth cart the tools needed to volunteer at the Spirit Park Community Garden in West Broadway.

The garden is “vital to the community’s well-being,” said Zorya Arrow, who manages WBCO’s greenspace program and does community outreach.

WBCO's Zorya Arrow shows youth the difference between weeds and a strawberry plant.

WBCO’s Zorya Arrow shows youth the difference between weeds and a strawberry plant.

Zorya showed the youth how to weed the garden beds and explained composting before putting them to work cleaning and planting.

Youth learn about composting.

Youth learn about composting.

At WestEnd Commons youth wielded power drills to reinforce a garden box that will be used to grow food for the non-profit’s 82 residents, 42 of which are children.

Haley Morrow drives a screw to strengthen a garden box at WestEnd Commons.

Haley Morrow drives a screw to strengthen a garden box at WestEnd Commons.

“I feel privileged to get this opportunity. I’m just happy right now to be helping,” said Haley Morrow, 15, who said the Day of Caring experience has inspired her to volunteer more in her life.

Students in the community garden at WestEnd Commons.

Students in the community garden at WestEnd Commons.

John Hutton, executive director of the John Howard Society (JHS), was thrilled to have youth help clean up a basement space they will be opening up to another social agency.
“They’re great. They actually know how to clean and they’ve been enthusiastic,” said John.

Youth and JHS's John Hutton take a break for a photo.

Youth and JHS’s John Hutton take a break for a photo.

Most of the kids didn’t know about the JHS and the work the United Way agency partner does to help men successfully re-integrate into society after involvement with the criminal justice system.

“Volunteering connects kids to their community. They get a chance to say they’ve made things better, and they can learn a lot.”

At Thrive Community Support Circle youth washed windows, sorted donations and organized racks in the Thrift Shop, and helped with kids in the daycare.

The Thrift Shop is a social enterprise that supports the work of Thrive – a neighbourhood family centre and United Way agency partner that provides respite daycare, family counselling, parenting classes and monthly emergency food and baby-supply services.

Youth volunteers at Thrive.

Youth volunteers at Thrive.

Thrift Shop Coordinator Kristy Muckosky said the youth did “more work in three hours than we usually get done in two days.”

Organizing clothing racks in the Thrift Shop.

Organizing clothing racks in the Thrift Shop.

“It’s also neat to see their perspective of a place like this. You can tell that it’s eye-opening and they’re eager to help.”

Sorting donations for the Thrive Thrift Shop.

Sorting donations for the Thrive Thrift Shop.

After two hours of volunteering the youth returned on foot to the MERC gym for a lunch of pizza, generously donated by Santa Lucia Pizza. They spent the afternoon sharing their experiences and participating in workshops and presentations.

Returning to the MERC.

Returning to the MERC.

They also heard from an inspiring young woman, Lavonne Spencer, 21, who told them about growing up in the West End and attending after-school and sports programs at Spence Neighbourhood Association.

Lavonne said some people have a negative stereotype of the West End – that it’s all about drugs and gangs and crime. She used to have the same stereotype of the North End, until she spent time there and saw the truth – that it’s a strong community full of proud people and families living positive lives.

The inspiring Lavonne Spencer.

The inspiring Lavonne Spencer.

“Do not limit yourself. I challenge you to go into new communities and meet new people. See things through their eyes, and leave a legacy there,” Lavonne told the youth.

Thank you to all the youth who participated in United Way’s Youth Day of Caring 2017. Your spirit, enthusiasm, and generosity are the ingredients for thriving communities for generations to come!

Creating fertile ground for tomorrow in the community garden behind the MERC.

Creating fertile ground for tomorrow in the community garden behind the MERC.

To learn more about United Way Day of Caring volunteer opportunities contact our Community Involvement Manager at 204-924-4273 or mburgess@unitedwaywinnipeg.mb.ca.

If you are a community organization that needs help with a project or event, please fill out a Day of Caring request form and email or fax it to Melissa at mburgess@unitedwaywinnipeg.mb.ca or 204-453-6198

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