Nearly 1,000 Chippewa Valley volunteers participate in United Wa - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Nearly 1,000 Chippewa Valley volunteers participate in United Way Day of Caring

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Chippewa Valley (WQOW)- For 23 years United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley has brought together hundreds of people around the area to help out their neighbors.

On Friday nearly 1,000 volunteers joined forces around the Chippewa Valley to help over 40 local non-profits for the annual Day of Caring.

"We try to keep our finger on the pulse of those key community issues that we can influence, that we can move the needle on," said Jan Porath, Executive Director of United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley.

Paul Gierczak, a face familiar to the Day of Caring, told News 18 it all started with a day at the Bolton Refuge House that set his volunteering fire aflame, and never went dark.

"It just stuck. There's got to be something more I can do, how more can I help. You start to realize just the need in our community that we don't see everyday, and so from there on out I was like, any way that these two hands can help out, they're going to find a way to help out," said Gierczak.

Alongside dozens of others, Gierczak poured, packed and sealed oatmeal packs for local schools. The volunteers on Friday worked to pack 80,000 meals for students in the Chippewa Valley. With the help of Feed My People, over 2,500 students will be going home with an extra meal.

"As a community we're all interconnected. Although someone may think I will never need the programs or services that are being provided with the United Way dollars, but I promise you, you know someone who does," Porath said.

"At some point in all our lives we've needed some kind of help in some way shape or form, and so anything we can do to just help our fellow person along in life, it's an easy thing to do," Gierczak said.

United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley is starting it's annual fundraising campaign with a goal of raising $2 million by early 2018. On Friday, Scheels helped kick it off with a match challenge. The company will match every dollar donated until January 31 up to $50,000. Donations can be made online or mailed directly to the United Way.

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