Press-Republican

April 29, 2013

Day of Caring volunteers give back to the community

By KAITLYN AFFUSO
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Community and college volunteers turned out for projects throughout the area during Saturday’s Day of Caring.

Sponsored by SUNY Plattsburgh’s Project HELP, United Way of the Adirondack Region and The Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau, the annual event brought volunteers to about 75 community projects. Participants helped in community cleanups, fundraisers and a variety of other tasks.

At the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts (NCCCA), a group of students and two community members helped with the Strand Theatre renovation in downtown Plattsburgh.

Zuehailey Irizarry, vice-president of activities for SUNY Plattsburgh’s Student Association, said this is her second year participating in Day of Caring and she has enjoyed this year’s task.

Irizarry said she went to a professor’s home last year to stack wood and do simple yard work. She said the bigger crowd on site this year to prepare an old theater for a reopening was a bigger reward.

“You can tell they’re (renovators) really appreciative,” Irizarry said. “We made an impact this year.”

Jake Vassello, executive vice president of the Student Association, said it took four hours with a 20-person group to do a big cleaning job at the Strand.

“Since we (Student Association) represent about 6,500 students, it’s nice to do something for the community too,” Vassello said.

The volunteers removed wood and pipes from previous construction projects in the theater, filling a dumpster. 

Karen Ploth and her daughter Kallie McGrath, a Chazy High School drama club member, also volunteered at the Strand. They said the cleaning and organization changed parts of the theater completely.

“I like how I’ve been a part of putting this together,” McGrath said.

Ploth said she had not been in the Strand Theatre since the ’70s or ’80s, and while it has changed a great deal, she was happy to become a part of it again. 

Devi Momot, who works with the NCCCA and Vision2Action, said the volunteers did a great job. She said she is always looking for volunteers to help with the renovation. Those who are interested should contact Leigh Mundy, the main coordinator of the Strand Theatre renovation, who’s affiliated with NCCCA. 

Another community service effort was held at Sam’s Club, where a group of sorority sisters from Alpha Epsilon Phi collected nonperishable food items or cash donations from shoppers, all benefitting the local food shelves in Clinton and Essex counties.

Christina Innamorato said that, although participating in the Day of Caring is mandatory for the sorority sisters, all were happy to help out. 

Innamorato said Shannon Campbell and Kelsie Brea handed out fliers at the store’s entrance, that way shoppers were aware of the donating table just outside the exit doors.

“We’re doing really good so far,” Kathryn Castillo said.

Nicole Coppinger, a first-year participant, agreed.

“Our sorority is really big in community service,” Coppinger said.

Castillo said this community service task is easy compared to others they’ve done, but it’s always enjoyable to be giving back to the community.

“Overall, it’s never too hard to help people,” Castillo said.

“You have a free Saturday anyway, you might as well help out.”