The caring side of community

Jeremy Pratt rakes in new sand for the sand box at Kitsap Child Care and Preschool Wednesday as part of United Way
Jeremy Pratt rakes in new sand for the sand box at Kitsap Child Care and Preschool Wednesday as part of United Way's Day of Caring.
— image credit: Photo by Kassie Korich

Kitsap Child Care and Preschool in Bremerton is more than 40 years old, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at it.

Since the inception of United Way’s Day of Caring 13 years ago, countless community volunteers have contributed their time and labor to the school’s upkeep.

“It’s been thousands of dollars (worth) over the years in labor, it’s amazing,” said Barbara Mitchell, Kitsap Child Care and Preschool director.

“The money we save is better used for equipment for the children and curriculum materials.”

The preschool, located on Elizabeth Avenue, is a United Way agency which serves low-income children. A partner of Kitsap Community Resources, the preschool also offers a full-day Headstart program and serves special needs children through a partnership with the Bremerton School District.

“The wear and tear on the building is tremendous,” Mitchell said. “We look forward to this all year.”

Volunteers spent Wednesday preparing and painting classrooms, raking, weeding, planting, pressure washing and repairing, all in the name of community service.

“It sounded like such a good thing,” said first-time Day of Caring volunteer Dee Tuttle of her reason for signing up. “I believe in helping the community.”

The volunteers worked not only on the building’s maintenance, but also on the children’s playground and sand box.

“The kids are so excited to come in tomorrow and see the new box of sand and playground,” Mitchell said Wednesday afternoon. “It’s like Christmas. It’s just so wonderful and it means so much to us to have people come and donate their time.”

Mitchell is planning to retire at the end of summer after 34 years with Kitsap Child Care and Preschool and already has a plan for next year.

“I think I’ll come back and volunteer next year for Day of Caring and keep the tradition going,” she said with a smile.

The preschool, however, was just one of the many projects that volunteers worked together to improve on Wednesday. More than 250 local community members were scattered throughout Kitsap County, working on 26 projects from Bainbridge Island to Tahuyeh.

Day of Caring coordinator Tamra Ingwaldson of United Way has already received positive feedback from volunteers.

“It went really well,” she said of the event. “I received e-mails from people saying they had a great time. They’re wanting to figure out what they can do throughout the year instead of just on one day.”

Day of Caring, she added, is a way for people to donate their time when they may be unable to donate money.

“Not everyone has the ability to do a financial investment, this allows them to invest time which is just as valuable,” she said.

Two additional volunteer teams will be out today at the Benedict House in Bremerton and again at Kitsap Child Care and Preschool. About 300 volunteers will have participated in this year’s Day of Caring after today, worth more than $27,000 in labor.

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