24th Annual Day of Action Invades Metro

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The weather outside was perfect on Tuesday afternoon, and thousands of volunteers around the metro made the most of it.

More than 4,500 volunteers rolled up their sleeves and got to work as part of United Way’s 24th annual Day of Action. Volunteers helped with a variety of activities, and were there to lend a hand with pretty much everything nonprofit groups in the area needed. 

“It is a huge impact to an organization like ours. We have a very limited staff and for us to get all these things done and all these families helped all in one day is truly amazing,” said Missy Reams of Bidwell Riverside.

Reams runs Bidwell Food Pantry, which saw its busiest month ever last month with 4,500 families served. Tuesday's extra help was welcomed, but for all of these nonprofits, the need is year-round, not just for one day. 

“While it’s great to rally around these projects and get a lot of energy around it, the need is on-going. One of the things we lift up at each one of our projects is not only have you made a difference today, but here is how you can help going forward,” said Shirley Burgess, volunteer coordinator of United Way of Central Iowa.

Burgess estimates about 25% of Tuesday's volunteers will sign up for other events during the year. So not only are they impacting 40 non-profits on Tuesday afternoon, but they are also helping a lot of families year-round.

“Simple answer is we get a lot of hugs, yeah. So, lots of gratitude there that makes us feel pretty good that’s worthwhile,” said Larry Anderson of FreeStore in Des Moines.

Burgess says the value of the labor donated on Tuesday is more than $225,000.