Hundreds give back for United Way Day of Caring

Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 23, 2019

LOWNDES COUNTY. Ga. (WCTV) -- All hands were on deck in South Georgia Friday as hundreds of volunteers dedicated the day to caring for others.

This year marks the 65th anniversary of the Greater Valdosta United Way and its Day of Caring. More than 400 volunteers celebrated its legacy by donating their time and hard work to local organizations.

The Greater Valdosta United Way recently opened a new facility near the Valdosta State University campus. The chapter is going through a sort of revitalization in the Azalea City. The Day of Caring serves as an opportunity for hundreds of community members to show their support for the nearly two dozen organizations, and the difference they make in the community.

One of those organizations is Jacobs' Ladder Therapeutic Riding Center. Volunteers from Wild Adventures and Corteva helped out by mowing, moving gates and bathing horses.

"Jacobs' Ladder performs a good service for the community, so anytime we can help our somebody who's doing something good for the community, we certainly want to do that," said Greg Register with Corteva.

The non-profit provides equine therapy for kids and adults with special needs and developmental disabilities.

Owner Leslie Jacobs said caring for their fifteen horses, and their students, is hard work every day, but seeing the impact the horses have on their lives makes it all worth it.

Jacobs said help with volunteers and the United Way makes a big difference in the help they can provide.

"There's not enough hours in the day. So we rely heavily on volunteers," Jacobs said. "I always feel like we need to do good for somebody every day. So when we have organizations like these folks that have come out here today and have helped us, they're helping us to do good for other people by making things pretty clean, making it nicer for our families to be here."

Jacobs' Ladder is changing lives, one hoof at a time.

The organization is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a special event on September 14. It's open to anyone who has participated, volunteered or is just interested in checking out the facility. Organizers will have a silent auction and raffle, as well as a dinner. The cost is 25 dollars per person, or 200 dollars for a table. Guests are asked to RSVP by the end of August.

The Greater Valdosta United Way also used the Day of Caring to announce a new partnership with Wild Adventures by providing incentives with agencies and their donors.

Leaders said it's meant to generate more support for these agencies, and hopefully, more help for those who need it.

"Wild Adventures is nothing without the community we serve, so whenever we have an opportunity to give back to that community we jump at that chance," said Adam Floyd with Wild Adventures. "Partnering with the United Way is just another way to do what we always do, and try and find ways to give back."

The Greater Valdosta United Way aims to raise $750,000 this year for local agencies.