Annual Days of Caring Prove Companies and Employees Do Care

Article excerpt

While scrubbing beds and walls in a camp room at the Woodlands, Tracy Murphy chatted happily with two co-workers from Medrad Inc., a medical device company headquartered in Marshall.

"I never really got to know much about my co-workers, and days like today give me a chance to talk with them," said Murphy, 38, of Cranberry. "I'm really proud to have the opportunity to volunteer and look back at what I've done and feel that sense of pride and accomplishment."

More than 800 Medrad employees are among the thousands of volunteers across Allegheny County expected to participate in the annual Days of Caring, sponsored by United Way and Pittsburgh Cares. The annual campaign encourages businesses to send employees to volunteer in their communities each September and October.

Last year, about 100 businesses and 5,000 volunteers took part in about 230 Days of Caring projects, said Alexa New, program manager at Pittsburgh Cares, a Downtown agency that coordinates volunteer services. Medrad is the largest such group, New said.

"Having such a large number of volunteers from one company makes such a huge impact," New said. "They're able to be engaged in a number of different activities and really make a difference."

The Woodlands, a Bradford Woods nonprofit that offers enrichment activities for children and adults with disabilities and chronic illnesses, hosts several groups each year during Days of Caring. It receives different requests from each group -- some want to do manual labor, while others prefer the creativity associated with the Woodlands' annual haunted trail.

"It's an excellent community partnership because these volunteers learn a lot about children with disabilities," said Leslie Uriss Spehar, spokeswoman for the Woodlands. "We really have to rely on the kindness of strangers."

At FedEx Ground in Moon, about 10 percent of the company's 2,000 employees participate in Days of Caring each year -- and even more want to give their time. …