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      Day of Caring volunteers work to give back to the community

      John Deere employees lend a hand at the Salvation Army for the Day of Caring.

      Many were off work in Ottumwa Wednesday -- but not to relax. Instead, they used their free time to volunteer and participate in service projects as part of the United Way of Wapello County's annual Day of Caring.

      Some cleaned tables at the Salvation Army, such as Tony Akridge from John Deere.

      "It's always good to remind ourselves, there's other things we can do out in the community with our busy schedules, at work, at home," Akridge said. "Sometimes it's good to stop and see how we can help other people in the community."

      Other volunteers spent the day helping out at the short-handed Salvation Army Thrift Store.

      "I just want to support the community and as the lady who works here at the Salvation Army was telling me, everything that they take here goes back to Ottumwa, it doesn't go to other communities, so I just think that's important," said Jessica Sheppard, also of John Deere.

      And for the first time ever for a Day of Caring activity, volunteers were able to go out with Meals on Wheels drivers, delivering lunches to the residents who need them.

      "It's kind of interesting, just to see all the different people, just meeting all kinds of people, they've all been very nice and just helping out and giving back to the community," John Deere's Jim Gaines said.

      And giving back to the community is what the Day of Caring is all about. Those who weren't able to participate Wednesday should still get active and give back whenever they can.

      "It's really fun, first of all, and it really makes you feel like a part of the community to understand the people here and what their needs are," Sheppard said.

      "Really, [it's] just what the community is, just going out and giving back to the people around us," said Gaines. "Not everybody is as fortunate as the rest of us, so it's important to remember that and make sure we get out and give back."