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United Way’s Day of Caring expands to month-long event

In addition to in-person volunteer opportunities, this year there are new ways to contribute remotely or individually.

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — The pandemic has put a strain on many individuals, families and nonprofits in West Michigan. 

As part of a continued effort to support the community, Heart of West Michigan United Way transformed it’s Day of Caring into a month-long event. 

This huge volunteer event has been going strong for over 25 years, and this year is no exception. But because of the pandemic, it’s going to look a little different. 

Typically in September, hundreds of employees from companies across Kent County descend on dozens of nonprofits for the day. 

But organizing larger groups is not a pandemic-friendly plan. This year’s event is spread out over the entire month, with new ways to contribute.

There are still opportunities to volunteer in-person at agencies offering essential services, and this year there are options to contribute remotely or individually. 

United Way is also asking people to donate personal protective equipment to agencies and schools, to learn about local issues through online resources and to give blood. 

“There are a lot of wonderful agencies doing food distributions right now, and volunteers are needed to help with that work and they can do so during Month of Caring,” said Katelyn Olsen, the volunteer center manager for Heart of West Michigan United Way. “But we also have some really great virtual opportunities and things that maybe people don't traditionally think of as volunteering, like giving blood. We think of that as a really essential service in our community and it's of great need right now, so we're partnering with Versiti Blood Center to do that.” 

Duane Brodt, a spokerson for Versiti said our state currently has an adequate supply of blood, recovering after thousands of canceled appointments the past few months. 

However, it continues to be a concern heading into fall. Students account for nearly 30 percent of Michigan’s blood supply, and drives are being canceled at high schools and universities because of remote learning.

The following is a list of area blood drives. If you or your company is interested in signing up for the Month of Caring, you can do so on United Way’s website

3-7 p.m. Sept. 1
First Baptist Church
246 W. Main Ave.

8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 7
Rockford area donor site at Community Cabin
220 N. Monroe St.

11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 10
Kentwood area donor site at Heritage Baptist Church
1570 60th St. SE

1-7 p.m. Sept. 10
Sparta Area Donor Site at Sparta United Methodist
54 E. Division St.

12:30-7 p.m. Sept. 15
Cedar Springs area donor site at Cedar Springs United Methodist Church
140 S. Main St.

2-7 p.m. Sept. 22
Coopersville area donor site at Coopersville UMC
105 68th Ave.

2-6:45 p.m. Sept. 22
Fellowship Reformed Church
6610 36th Ave.

Noon-7 p.m. Sept. 24
Kentwood area donor site at Heritage Baptist Church
1570 60th St. SE

Noon-7 p.m. Sept. 28
Caledonia area donor site at American Legion #305
9548 Cherry Valley Ave. SE

Michigan residents can also donate blood at any Versiti donor center:

  • Grand Rapids: 1036 Fuller NE
  • Kalamazoo Area: 524 E. Milham Ave., Portage
  • Grandville: 3140 Wilson SW

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