Every year, the elderly and disabled in Junction City have a chance to reach out to the United Way for help with light yard work.

United Way’s Day of Caring sees volunteers go out into the community to clean up the yards of people, such as the elderly or disabled, who are unable to do so themselves.

One volunteer, Cathy Stage, has been bringing her children out to the Day of Caring for the past three years.

“It costs nothing to help out — just my time,” she said. “So why not?”

For Stage, it’s a way to give back to the community while also teaching her children a valuable life lesson.

“The kids get volun-told to come out ... They could be at home, just sleeping in bed,” she said. “But if I bring them out here, it gives them a chance to do something good.”

Working alongside her children, Stage said, also teaches them something — that she’s not just handing out orders and sitting back while they do as they’re told.

“I’m not just forcing them to do it,” she said. “I’m actually out there with them.”

Stage and other volunteers raked leaves, cleared branches from yards, and cleared gutters, according to Junction City/Geary County United Way Director Nichole Mader.

“It’s really just basic yard work,” she said. “Fall cleanup — so lots and lots of leaves.”

This year, United Way had nine houses on its roster for the Day of Caring and 12 volunteers, Mader said.

This is fewer houses than usual. Often, United Way has up to 15 houses on the roster for Day of Caring. About two years ago, Mader said, volunteers managed to do work at 18 houses in Junction City, with help from 115 volunteers.

The city helps as well.

“We send them the list of houses that we have and then they come around, usually Monday, Tuesday, and pick up all of the yard waste at no cost to the home owner,” she said. “We wouldn’t be able to do it if it wasn’t for the city.”

The next Day of Caring is roughly 365 days away, give or take, but Mader said that shouldn’t stop people from trying to help their neighbors out.

“If people are wanting to volunteer, get out and make a difference,” she said.

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