Friday, September 12, 2014

DOC 2013 picImagine what could happen if two dozen volunteers armed with spades, hoes and hammers descended upon a preschool’s yard. In a day’s time, that school could have a learning garden, the perfect vehicle for teaching nutrition, environmental awareness and a sense of responsibility. It’s not just a vision. It will happen on Day of Caring, September 26th. Day of Caring is Central Florida’s largest community-based volunteer event. Businesses throughout the area send out teams of volunteers to work on specific projects aimed at bettering our community. Project needs fit some broad areas of interest. Gardening and landscaping projects are a great chance to spend a day outdoors. Creative thinkers can promote literacy through arts and crafts, while those who simply want to show they care can help serve the homeless. With dozens of projects to choose from, Central Florida corporations can easily put 2,000 volunteers out in the community September 26th. There are even projects available for individuals who want to participate. To learn more about Day of Caring and to sign up for a company project, visit the Day of Caring page at You can also contact the Volunteer Resource Center by calling (407) 429-2136 or emailing us at

Friday, June 7, 2013

Top 10 Reasons to Participate in Day of Action on June 17

(Pictured above: Heart of Florida United Way recently held a book sorting party in preparation for its annual “Day of Action” to be held on Monday, June 17th. Staff and volunteers helped sort more than 5,000 children's books that were donated to Day of Action, the one day a year aimed at community-wide volunteerism.)

Looking for a great volunteer opportunity and a chance to promote children's literacy? Heart of Florida United Way is inviting volunteers to come participate in Day of Action on Monday, June 17th.

Day of Action is a community-wide volunteerism opportunity focusing on reducing the summer reading gap, which is the gradual decline of reading proficiency while children are away from the classroom. In an effort to encourage reading and foster literacy in youth, volunteers will engage in a variety of activities, including reading aloud, creating skits and playing rhyming games or “word BINGO.”

Volunteer projects will take place at partner agencies throughout the community, including Orlando Day Nursery Association, Winter Park Day Nursery, Schools and Communities: Together for Tomorrow, PACE Center for Girls and more. Volunteers can sign up to participate online at

Here are 10 great reasons why you should participate in Day of Action:

1. With a focus on education, Heart of Florida United Way is aiming to encourage reading and foster literacy in youth during its “Day of Action,” one day a year aimed at community-wide volunteerism.

2. Summer reading loss is the gradual decline of reading proficiency while children are away from the classroom.

3. A recent study shows that while in middle-income neighborhoods the ratio of age-appropriate books per child is 13 to 1, in low-income neighborhoods the ratio is 1 for every 300 children.
4. Children already struggling to maintain grade-appropriate reading levels and/or those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are often the ones most affected by summer reading loss.

5. Eighty percent of pre-school and after-school programs serving low-income students don’t have age-appropriate materials, according to Access for All: Closing the Book Gap for Children in Early Education by Susan Neuman.

6. By the end of fifth grade, low-income children are approximately 2.5 years behind their peers in terms of reading ability, primarily because of summer reading loss.

7. Students score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do at the end of the school year.

8. Studies from the University of California show that students could improve their reading skills over the summer if they were able to select books based on their interests and reading levels. 

9. Out-of-school reading habits have demonstrated that even 15 minutes a day of independent reading can expose students to more than a million words a year.

10. Price is the number one barrier to book ownership. Due to cost, 94 percent of teachers nationwide use their own money to provide books and resources for their students.