Volunteers show what Day of Caring is all about

Volunteers from Oklahoma Natural Gas were at Kelly B. Todd Cerebral Palsy & Neuro-Muscular Center on Friday morning, trimming bushes, weeding flower beds, cleaning gutters, planting flowers and washing windows. “Once a year, special volunteers on Day of Caring provide the best landscaping we could ask for and for free,” said Sharon Riggs, executive director.

The United Way Day of Caring is an annual event in which area businesses and organizations come together to tackle service projects for community nonprofit organizations. The purpose is to assist nonprofit organizations with projects that might not otherwise be completed without additional help and labor.Riggs estimated that her organization saved hundreds of dollars by having OG&E volunteers do this work. While fellow workers cleaned up the outside of the organization, three volunteers painted a mural in the physical therapy room.ge wall, Jason “Pawnee” Lewis had drawn outlines for each letter and a superhero character that would be created Friday. “I have a 2-year-old girl who likes superhero characters and bright colors,” Lewis said. With that inspiration the team was using bright reds, blues and other colors in their painting.  “They’re here trying to get better, and now they have the superheroes to look up to,” said Karen Bigby, plant mechanic. Asked if the mural would be completed Friday, Lewis flashed a big smile. “We’ll give it the best shot we’ve got,” he said.

Markus Simmons washed and dried the organization’s large plate-glass windows. “We’re blessed to be in the situation we’re in to volunteer,” Simmons said. “It’s always positive to give back to the community.” About 30 Oklahoma Gas and Electric company employees pitched in to clean up the Whitlock WISH House and their shelter.

“Companywide, the WISH House is a priority for us,” said Mike Ruby, community affairs manager. He said that every employee gets 16 hours to volunteer, which goes along with OG&E’s belief to give back to the community. FEDEX and Advantage Controls volunteered to build from scratch a total of three playhouses. “I was in tears when Advantage Control called and wanted to take two of them,” said Suzanne Hughes, executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates. One of the playhouses is in the shape of a firetruck, she said. Last year, CASA had volunteers put together play houses from a kit. This year, they’re being assembled “ground up from plans.” Hughes said the playhouses will be raffled off at a future date to raise money for the organization. As of Friday morning, FEDEX and Advantage Controls were waiting for the lumber to be delivered. Both organizations said they would probably begin assembling the play houses Monday.

Reach Mark Hughes at (918) 684-2908 or mhughes@muskogeephoenix.com.