Thousands of People ‘Skip’ Work to Volunteer Around the Metro

DES MOINES, Iowa — About 4,500 volunteers will take all or part of the day off from work Tuesday to help at schools and lend a hand to those who need it for United Way of Central Iowa’s Day of Action.

All of the volunteers come from 43 different companies to help out at 159 projects all across the metro.

A large chunk of the volunteers help out with the Read to Succeed program where each volunteer will be reading one on one with students to help them with their reading scores.

“We will have about 700 volunteers in 13 different schools throughout Des Moines, Johnston and Urbandale and West Des Moines reading one on one with third graders. Really trying to influence that third grade reading score that we know is so important. Volunteers will actually sit one on one with children and read a book and actually perform a literacy activity that will reinforce that literacy skill,” United Way Volunteer Engagement Officer Shirley Burgess said.

One of the businesses helping out with Read to Succeed is Bankers Trust.

Bankers Trust Corporate Communications Officer Scott Valbert said they recruited 101 of their employees to go out on the day of service for their 100th anniversary in business and he especially likes reading with kids.

“You know for me personally, it’s really working with children. And when you have the opportunity to read with kids and see how they react and respond to that, it’s really rewarding to know that you’ve made their day better and hopefully helped them along with their education,” Valbert said

But there are many other service projects going on Tuesday including help with resumes and job applications, outdoor projects and more.

“We also have a project with Lutheran Services of Iowa where a group of volunteers is going to be working with a group of refugees that are working on their citizenship classes. So volunteers will sit and work with them on test questions, as well as help them practice their English skills by just doing some conversations with them,” Burgess said.