United Way Day of Caring Is Coordinated Effort to Serve Community

Issue Date: 
October 20, 2014

By Jane-Ellen Robinet


Each year, the University of Pittsburgh sends thousands of volunteers into surrounding communities for service days, including Pitt’s United Way Day of Caring.

For the Oct. 2 Day of Caring, 250 faculty, staff, students, and alumni spent the day in 15 Pittsburgh communities, working on 40 projects. In Bloomfield-Garfield, the volunteers weeded, tilled, raked, and planted trees and plants in Kite Hill Park. In Homestead, volunteers painted walls and floors inside the Carnegie Library of Homestead and landscaped the Magic Penny Memory Garden outside. Other activities on the day’s to-do list were renovating community centers, entertaining seniors, and sorting and packing food.

But these volunteer days are not just one-off events. Instead, they are a coordinated effort aimed at making a sustainable difference and contributing to the broader Pittsburgh community. Two of Pitt’s other annual service days are the student-driven Pitt Make a Difference Day (PMADD) each fall and the United Way Good Neighbor Day each spring.

“If we work on a project during Day of Caring, we then try to see the possibility of a team of volunteers from Pitt Make a Difference Day also working on the same site to build on the prior effort,” said Kannu Sahni, director of community relations within Pitt’s Office of Community and Governmental Relations. 

“We try to coordinate it so we can have work done on both the Day of Caring and Pitt Make a Difference Day. With many of our projects, it takes more than just one day of service to do the work. Now, with the addition of a Good Neighbor Day in spring, we are able to return to take care of maintenance and work on the next phase,” Sahni added.

For example, Pitt volunteer teams have worked for two years on the Bates Street beautification project, performing various stages of clearing and planting. This year’s Day of Caring team helped clear and prepare the slopes for planting, and on Oct. 18, a PMADD team was scheduled to plant a few hundred ferns.

And so continues the planning for Pitt’s next service day. Thousands of hands and multiple projects, beautifying the neighborhoods, one paintbrush and one fern at a time.















1. Pitt Police Commander Shawn Ellies trims bushes at Peoples Oakland, a nonprofit mental health recovery and wellness center on Bates Street. 2. Mimi Koral, Pitt director of alumni communications, works at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank in Duquesne. 3. College of General Studies students pulled weeds and prepared the grounds along Bates Street for fall planting