Jeff Schwartz, Amanda Tesh and her son, Benjamin, unload a cart of donated items at the Kiwanis Community House for the Cheyenne Day of Giving on Friday, May 10, 2019. Schwartz and Amanda Tesh joined other Walmart Distribution Center employees volunteering to help collect and sort donations at the annual event. Gary Gwin/For the Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – The Kiwanis Community House in Lions Park was a hub of activity Friday.

A line of vehicles dropped off a variety of food and personal-care items – cereal, soups, canned goods, toilet paper and towels – as well as monetary donations and medical equipment.

Volunteers were rushing those donations – more than 22,000 pounds worth – into the Community House, where more volunteers were waiting to sort and pack the items in boxes for local nonprofit organizations in need.

It was part of the 14th annual Cheyenne Day of Giving, a volunteer effort to provide residents with a one-stop shop for giving.

People from 80 local congregations, 56 businesses and 12 community groups participated in the event that benefits the Arc of Laramie County, Boys & Girls Club of Cheyenne, COMEA House, Home Away From Home, Family Promise of Cheyenne, Magic City Enterprises, Needs Inc., St. Joseph’s Food Pantry, The Salvation Army, Safehouse Services, Unaccompanied Students Initiative and Wyoming Coalition for the Homeless.

Reggie Taylor drove to the Community House with a pickup truck loaded with canned goods and other items collected from Miracle Valley Ministries. It was the first of two trips he would make that day, he said.

“It’s pretty good that we had people who were so willing to give,” he said. “We’re not a very big church, but we do what we can.”

Randy Benson from the local Walmart Distribution Center was among volunteers waiting outside the building on this chilly morning to meet donors as they dropped off goods.

“We’ve seen everything from food items to hygiene items to clothing to crafts to medical supplies; pretty much everything has come through here,” Benson said. “The traffic comes and goes. It get steady at times and then drops off. It’s been that way over the years.”

“The weather plays a part, as well, but it’s actually been a lot better than I was anticipating with the weather today,” Benson said

It was his seventh year of volunteer duty with the Day of Giving.

But the event was not limited to people donating food and personal-care items.

Community members were also afforded an opportunity to give blood, while others signed up on the bone marrow, organ and tissue donor registries.

Randee Toler, donor recruitment manager in the Mountain Division of Vitalant, formerly known as United Blood Services, was giving her best pitch to convince people to donate a pint.

“If you’re feeling well and healthy, and if you want to make a difference in someone’s life – it only takes an hour to donate a pint of whole blood,” she said. “That pint can impact as many as three patients in need.”

Lions Club members accepted prescription eyeglasses, over-the-ear hearing aids and cellphones for redistribution.

“We can’t give out prescription eyeglasses in the United States ... We’ll send them to a place where they will be tagged and sent overseas,” Lions Club member Mary Brown said.

Brown said the hearing aids and cellphones are refurbished and redistributed locally to students in Laramie County School District 1 and clients with Safehouse Services, respectively.

Shower chairs, bedside commodes, wheelchairs? No problem. Katie Diel with Colorado-based Good Health Will was there to accept medical equipment, as well as other items.

“We’ve seen a little bit of everything,” Diel said. “We’ve seen toiletry and bathing supplies, walkers, diapers, wound care supplies and braces.”

She also accepted something that looked like medical equipment but would need identification before placement in one of the organization’s retail stores.

“I think this is going to be an air purifier or air concentrator,” she said.

And pharmacists with the Wyoming Department of Health were accepting medications.

Some donations would see redistribution for low-income or uninsured patients, according to Natasha Gallizzi, manager of the department’s medication donation program.

“We’re taking back all of the medicine, and we’re sorting out what we can use to help patients and what needs to be disposed of,” Gallizzi said.

In the event’s first official year in 2006, the Day of Giving supported three nonprofit groups in the city and received about three pickup loads of donations.

This year, volunteers collected 22,965 pounds of nonperishable food and personal-care items, as well as $53,354 in monetary donations.

Greta Morrow, who helped create the Day of Giving event after a bone marrow donation saved her life in 2002, summed up the day with a few words.

“It’s a happy day,” she said.

It’s not too late for those still wanting to help the community. Those with extra time today can participate in the Day of Service, an extension of the Day of Giving.

Registration is not required – those interested in participating can show up at 9 a.m. today at the Civic Center Commons, across the street from the Municipal Building, for a beautification project assignment.

Steve Knight is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. He can be reached at 307-633-3182 or sknight@wyomingnews.com.

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