LEAD — From special painting projects to yard work, volunteers from Coeur-Wharf were busy recently caring for Lead.

On Wednesday about 10 of the mine employees took time out of their schedule to participate in the United Way’s Month of Caring project that pairs volunteers with community members who need help with various projects. On that particular day, the volunteers helped Betty Ryan paint a wishing well in her yard, a wooden rocking chair, a table and two chairs. Then, in the heat of the afternoon they moved on to help John Larimore with his yard work.

“It’s really great,” Ryan said as the volunteers spruced up her place in Nevada Gulch. “I’m 85 now, so I just kind of have to start hiring other people or get these people, or make my kids do it.”

Kim Huber of Coeur-Wharf said the company has been very happy to participate in the United Way’s Month of Caring, giving back to the community in meaningful ways. The employees have helped Larimore with his yard before, and each time he is very grateful.

“It’s for a gentleman in Lead who is in poor health and can’t take care of his yard,” she said. “He continues to not feel well, and has a yard that needs taken care of. This is a great way to give back to the seniors in the community.”

On Sept. 20, Huber said the Coeur-Wharf employees would be back at it again, when they help the Handley Center build planting beds at the Community Garden, located at the top of Mill Street. The company funded the lumber purchases for the beds, and the beds they build this month will be used to provide a full suite of garden space for users next summer.

Audrea Amstutz said the Month of Caring is held annually in September. During this month, the United Way brings volunteers together to do community projects throughout the Black Hills region. The program started as a Day of Caring more than 20 years ago, with volunteers working on projects in the Rapid City area. Then, in 2014 it was expanded into the Northern Hills community, with projects scheduled to be done throughout September.

This year, Amstutz said the Month of Caring kicked off Sept. 2, with 57 projects scheduled through Sept. 30. The next project in the Lead area will be when employees of Black Hills Energy help the Lead-Deadwood Arts Center, with a date to be determined.

“The purpose of the Month of Caring is to promote the spirit and value of volunteerism, increase the awareness of local human service agencies, and demonstrate how people working together for the good of the community can accomplish great things” Amstutz said. “Participating organizations are matched with volunteers who choose to donate their time and talents to address the needs of their communities. Throughout the month, organizations and volunteers will work with local non-profit organizations and neighbors in need. Projects can include lawn care and landscaping, painting and cleaning.”

Each year, she said, the United Way has close to 1,000 volunteers from across the Black Hills, which brings in an estimated $88,000 in economic value through volunteer hours and improvements. This year volunteers have already been assigned to scheduled projects, but Amstutz said community-minded individuals can still help make a difference. Some project ideas include helping to pack or distribute food boxes for Freeding South Dakota; writing cards to residents in local nursing homes; donating blood through Vitalant, as there is a critical national shortage; and “chalk the walk” with positive messages throughout the neighborhood.

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