MANATEE -- There's going to be a whole lot of painting, planting and powerwashing around town Thursday.
It's United Way's Day of Caring and volunteers from Desoto, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties will be busy participating in projects in the region.
More than 200 volunteers will be involved Thursday around Manatee as well as on three alternate Day of Caring dates.
Some will be at Lincoln Middle School, setting up an outdoor garden classroom with donated mulch and trees.
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"This help is priceless," said Kimberly Lough, the school's agriculture education teacher and FFA adviser.
Some will be filling 300 goodie bags for the Salvation Army's inaugurual Shield of Hope 5K Oct. 12.
"We wouldn't be able to do this without that help," said the Salvation Army's Christine Smith. "Otherwise, it might take us a week to schedule all the volunteers we would need."
Some will be painting an old wooden mounting ramp at Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy.
"It's going to be great to get this project out of the way," said Diana Staab, SMART volunteer coordinator. "This is a real gift."
Among the companies and organizations participating around Manatee are Fifth Third Bank, Florida Blue, Gateway Bank, Manatee Chamber of Commerce, Manatee Young Professionals, Mosaic and Publix to name a few.
"The whole concept is to promote a sense of improving lives of others in our area for the greater good of the community," said Doreen Ravagnani, United Way development coordinator. "When these agencies get added help doing things they don't have the budget to do, it improves the quality of the lives of their clients. It also heightens awareness of the needs around us.
"In this economy not everybody can afford to make donations, but everybody can do something to help."
Thursday's events include:
Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Drive Anna Maria -- Painting and pressure washing.
Manatee Children Services, 1701 Tamiami Trail, Bradenton -- Exterior house painting.
Meals on Wheels PLUS, 2703 19 St. Court E., Bradenton -- Pruning and trimming therapeutic garden.
Southwest Florida Chapter American Red Cross, 2905 59th St. W., Bradenton -- Planting and mulching a new garden.
Turning Points, 701 17th Ave. W., Bradenton -- Painting.
United Cerebral Palsy of Southwest Florida, 6712 First Ave. W., Bradenton -- Mulching, weeding, planting.
Among the events on alternate dates are:
Oct. 5: United Cerebral Palsy of Southwest Florida, 2203 30th Ave. W., Bradenton -- Make outdoor rec spaces for adults with disabilities.
Oct. 8: The Children's Academy of Southwest Florida East Center, 2601 Seventh Ave. E., Bradenton -- Painting and planting.
Oct. 11: HOPE Family Services -- Painting a mural on children's play area.
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix