Every day I intern at United Way, as cliché as it sounds, is an adventure. Coming into the office this morning, dressed in heels, a skirt and a blazer, I was not expecting to be traveling to the Edgewood Children’s Ranch, but today marked the sneak peak of United Way Days of Caring and I was lucky enough to attend.
In case you haven’t heard, Days of Caring is Central Florida’s largest community-wide volunteer event, which kicks off this year on Friday. This year dozens of projects are scheduled and we are expecting a turnout of nearly 1,800 volunteers.
Today’s project, hosted by the Orlando Magic and Tampa Bay Lightning, was a fun pep rally for the more than 50 children served by the Edgewood Children’s Ranch, which provides a safe, caring environment where at-risk kids can rebuild their lives. A pizza lunch and ice cream sundae bar were enough to get the kids excited, but team mascots, Stuff and Thunderbug, really got the show going as they danced and cheered to the pounding beat of “We Will Rock You.”
After the sugar and excitement fully kicked in, volunteers handed out clappers to the kids which they put to good use when Orlando Magic Forward Bo Outlaw appeared. Standing tall and strong at 6’8, Bo was a huge hit as he took pizza orders, danced with the children, and of course kept Stuff and Thunderbug under control.
Also joining the fun was retired NHL player Dave Andreychuk, who now serves on the Lightning’s executive board. Both he and Outlaw took time to sign autographs, pose for pictures and visit with the kids.
After lunch, everyone lined up outside for a final group shot, sporting their Stuff headbands and Lightning blue shirts. With that came the best part of the day when the kids hugged the players and thanked them for coming. The air kiss I received from Stuff was a close runner up.
While interning at United Way, I’m learning a lot about my major in marketing, but I’m also seeing all the great things United Way does in our community.
Days of Caring is a terrific, fun way to give back and make a difference. Judging from what I saw today, I’d encourage anyone to get involved this Friday or throughout the year. Click here to learn more.
United Way Marketing & Communications