A simple thank you just didn’t seem like enough.

So Mary Hurt made sure to hug a couple of the volunteers from Cummins Inc. Seymour Engine Plant who spent the day sprucing up her yard and the outside of her residence on Euclid Avenue in Seymour.

“They got the bushes all trimmed up and the weeds pulled, and they painted the trim around the windows and the garage,” Hurt said. “I just love the red. Everything just looks so good now.”

The volunteers’ work was part of Jackson County United Way’s 21st annual Day of Caring, an event where people from local businesses, industries, community service organizations and schools donate their time to help others.

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Cummins shuts down its factory for the day so all employees have the opportunity to spend time giving back to the community. Cummins has participated in Day of Caring for about a decade and encourages all workers to complete community service hours throughout the year.

Day of Caring is an easy way to do that with many volunteers spending eight hours working.

This year, a total of 1,160 volunteers worked at more than 170 projects in all areas of the county.

Hurt said having to use a motorized wheelchair prevents her from being able to do yard work and housework on her own, and even though her husband, Ralph, does a lot, he’s often too busy taking care of her to get it all done.

Day of Caring provides free labor for projects that benefit local nonprofit groups and elderly and/or disabled residents.

“We are truly blessed to benefit from this program our community offers,” Mary Hurt said. “Without this help, some of the projects we need done would not be taken care of.”

Hurt said she already was planning projects for volunteers to do next year, including staining the wooden fence around her property.

Besides helping out the Hurts, the Cummins group also walked down a few houses and installed a new wooden railing for Ronald Blevins so he would have something sturdy to hold onto when walking down his front steps.

Cummins employee Grace Meredith said this was her first time participating in Day of Caring. Seven workers spent the day on Euclid Avenue.

“It’s nice to be able to go out and help the community, and it’s a nice break from what we do every day,” Meredith said.

Rex Thompson of Columbus works at Seymour Engine Plant and said he enjoys the volunteer work.

“It makes you feel good to be making a difference,” he said. “Last year, we were out in Medora, and we helped clear weeds and plants that had grown up and overtaken a lady’s house. You couldn’t even see the house when we started. It was a job she probably never would have been able to do.”

For Marc Smith of Sellersburg, Day of Caring allows him to be a bigger part of the community in which he works.

“It’s great to be able to give back and get to know Seymour better,” Smith said.

Supporting Crothersville

Paint rollers and paintbrushes were in full use Tuesday in Crothersville.

At the Jackson County Public Library branch in town, nine Aisin Drivetrain Inc. employees painted walls and trim inside and painted a ramp and parts of the building outside.

Sommer Elliott, human resources assistant section manager, said the Crothersville industry has helped with Day of Caring for several years.

“Just helping people, I think that’s the biggest thing,” she said. “Whether it’s an individual or a business, whatever we can do to help support and to help with the community involvement is great.”

Aisin encourages volunteerism and helping out the community, so Day of Caring is another avenue for employees to help out. Employees also donate to the United Way’s annual fundraising drive.

“Helping people makes me feel good, and to know we’re helping the community we’re working in and supporting, I think it makes everybody feel good,” Elliott said. “We do appreciate the volunteers, and we try to be as involved as we can.”

The Aisin crew also helped clean windows, plant flowers and spread mulch at the library.

“We’re just helping make it look nice for the spring,” Elliott said. “We’re having fun, and we’re enjoying the day. It’s a nice day out of the office.”

Behind the library, four employees of Integrity Mortgage in Seymour painted inside and outside the Crothersville Senior Citizens Center.

This is the second year in a row for the business to participate in Day of Caring, employee P.J. Stein said. Last year, they helped organize shelves at Goodwill in Seymour.

“It’s a nice change,” Stein said. “We help people get mortgages, but to get outside and get to meet new people, this is fun.”

Later in the day, the crew painted a handicap ramp at Hamacher Hall in Crothersville.

“Places like this obviously don’t have a lot of help probably to do little things like this, so it’s fun to get out and interact with people and help them do little things like this,” Stein said. “We’re definitely not handy people by any means, but doing little jobs like this and getting out and just making a difference, it’s fun. It’s rewarding.”

Helping out Medora

In Medora, volunteers from the Jackson County Purdue Alumni Club and Aisin spent the day at the Jackson County Public Library branch and the old Medora Brick Plant site, which has been nominated for a national grant to help restore the landmark and make it a tourist attraction.

Mary Lou Siefker, a member of the Purdue club, said giving back to the community is a part of the group’s mission.

“We always do community service across the county as part of our thank you for the alumni association supporting us,” she said. “It’s great because it gives us an opportunity to help the communities that support us.”

The Purdue club has around 1,500 alumni in Jackson County and provides scholarships to local students attending Purdue.

“We have a record number of students attending and will be giving out scholarships at all the school honor day programs,” Siefker said.

Volunteers scraped off paint, repainted and did landscaping work at the library and did general cleanup work at the brick plant.

Day of Caring benefits not only the agencies that receive the free labor but the volunteers doing the work, Siefker said.

“It’s a chance to meet new people in the community and learn how we can make a better community,” she said.

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Aaron Piper is a photographer and reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at apiper@tribtown.com or 812-523-7057.