It was a day to think about others and to give back to the community. Corporations, student groups and families banded together to build, repair, plant and paint. About 300 volunteers spent their Saturday as part of the Roger Hill Volunteer Center's Day of Caring.
"All the people that are here today, nobody was told they had to be here," said Tracie Massey, director of the Roger Hill Volunteer Center. "They find the value in giving back to the community. Volunteerism is something you do for others, but you do it for yourself, as well."
Volunteers tackled more than 70 projects in Lawrence and throughout Douglas County, including projects in Wellsville and Eudora.
Young volunteers from Lawrence High and Free State High School gathered at the Douglas County AIDS Project, 2518 Ridge Court, to plant a memorial garden honoring former DCAP board member John Bauer. The idea for a memorial garden surfaced about a year ago, and DCAP jumped at the opportunity to combine a memorial to Bauer, who died last summer, with the Day of Caring.
The volunteers planted bushes, trees and flowers donated by local businesses.
"Another aspect of it, beyond it brightening everybody's day when they walk in the building, we have a food pantry and we will grow fresh herbs in the garden," said Jill Zinn, DCAP's office administrator.
Miranda Schmidt, 17, a Lawrence High student, said volunteering is one of her hobbies.
"It's a good cause," she said, taking a break from tilling soil in the garden beneath DCAP's office windows. "And it's a good day today because it brings a lot of people in Lawrence together as a community, and it makes people realize they can help out their own community as well."
That same sentiment brought Crystal Harris to the Hidden Valley Camp, 3420 Bob Billings Parkway, where she was part of the "honeysuckle eradication," trimming trees and tossing brush into a fire pit.
"It just seemed like a very worthy thing to do. I used to come out here when I was a Girl Scout, so it was a perfect thing to do," said Harris, who joined more than 20 other volunteers with an affiliation to Harris Construction Company.
The sound of chainsaws and hammers filled the air as workers cut down branches and pieced together a massive yurt, a circular tent on a framework of poles traditionally used by Central Asian nomads.
"I have two daughters that were Girl Scouts, and I just thought this would be a great organization to help," said Phyllis Hunter, a Harris Construction employee.
"There's just not enough time for everybody to get things like this done," Harris said. "There's just not enough manpower, so it's nice for the community to come out and work together and hit it hard for a day."
Massey said she hoped the spirit of community service would continue after Saturday.
"There is such a need for volunteerism," she said.