SEARCY For the 23rd time, Unity Health will sponsor its annual A Day of Caring, set for July 27.
The event, which started as Shots for Tots and Teens in the 1990s, will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at the Ganus Activities Complex, at the corner of Park Avenue and Burks Drive on the Harding University campus.
“The Arkansas Department of Health was one of the organizations that joined us in starting this,” said Anna Brumfield, marketing coordinator for Unity Health. “It started as an immunization mission; then it’s moved to really just being what it is today.”
A Day of Caring offers free medical exams, eye screenings, school supplies, children’s underwear and socks and shoes, haircuts, lunch, a food bank and personal-care items.
Brumfield has been involved with the Day of Caring since she started working at Unity Health 10 years ago.
“We usually have around 1,300 to 1,400 people come through every year,” she said. “We also have about 400 to 500 volunteers every year to make this happen.”
Brumfield said one of the reasons the event was started was because several local organizations, including Unity Health (then White River Medical Center), wanted to help out people in the community.
“A Day of Caring is a medical mission that was created to help those who may be in need of medical services and has grown into so much more,” Brumfield said. “We are a community, and A Day of Caring is an example of what you do for your neighbors. We are here to help each other and encourage each other when we need it.”
Brumfield said it’s not a coincidence that the event occurs so closely to the new school year starting.
“That’s where a lot of these other services come into play,” she said, referring to the nonmedical services. “We’re offering haircuts for kids so they can go back to school with a new haircut, and shoes so they can go back to school with the confidence of having a new pair of shoes.”
As far as school supplies, Brumfield said, the hospital contacts local schools to see what supplies are needed for the upcoming year.
“We get donations for the school supplies as well,” she said. “We try to give as much as we can and make sure we’re meeting the needs that are there.”
Brooke Pryor, marketing director for Unity Health, said the event is big for the hospital.
“As a health care organization, Unity Health has the human resources to coordinate A Day of Caring outreach and engage hundreds of volunteers, as well as provide medical equipment and supplies for the various health assessments and screenings,” Pryor said. “Over the past 23 years, Unity Health has cultivated lasting relationships with businesses, churches and organizations throughout Searcy and White County that unite to provide services and items to participants who attend A Day of Caring.
“The social and economic conditions of community residents are critical for their health and well-being. Economic conditions develop numerous barriers in access to health care. By partnering with local businesses and civic organizations, we can address our community’s health from a different angle and provide a better approach to health care in our community.”
Brumfield said volunteers are a key to making A Day for Caring a success.
“The volunteers represent several organizations,” she said. “Some come from the hospital. We have a lot of medical and nonmedical people who help out. We also have several dentists and eye doctors in town who volunteer.”
Brumfield said organizations such as the Lions Club, the Kiwanis Club and the Junior Auxiliary, as well as local banks, help run the service areas.
“There are so many different groups that help with those areas,” she said. “We just have individuals from the community who show up and help with whatever is needed.”
Brumfield said people can show up the day of the event to volunteer, but she would like for them to contact her at (501) 278-3220.
“You can always show up, but it’s great to call beforehand,” she said. “That way, we know how many are coming and if we’ve got what we need. You get a T-shirt for volunteering.”
The White County Health Department, 112 Brantley Road, will offer immunizations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 27.
Staff writer Mark Buffalo can be reached at (501) 399-3676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.