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Tucson volunteers turn out in droves for community projects
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Tucson volunteers turn out in droves for community projects

The United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona held the 22nd annual Days of Caring on Friday and Saturday, gathering thousands of volunteers to help with various community projects.

The two-day initiative was expected to pair more than 100 local projects with about 2,300 volunteers.

“It’s really just a chance to invite the community to get out and give back in a number of different ways,” said Meredith Bode, director of community engagement at United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona.

Some of this year’s projects included cleaning up the Santa Cruz River, tree planting, various park cleanups and writing positive chalk messages on sidewalks.

On Saturday, Tucson Clean and Beautiful coordinated the Santa Cruz River cleanup for Days of Caring, with partners including REI, the Sonoran Institute and Tucson Water.

They anticipated more than 200 volunteers out on the river, said Katie Gannon, executive director of Tucson Clean and Beautiful.

“It’s really amazing how many people came out,” said Mike Zellner, chief executive officer at the Sonoran Institute. “If you would have told me this many people would come out for trash pickup on the Santa Cruz River, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

Hang-Nga Nguyen volunteered to help clean along the river after her husband saw a sign advertising the event. Nguyen said she and her husband enjoy The Loop walking and biking path a lot and it would be more enjoyable if it was cleaner.

“I’m one of those people that is against complaining and not doing anything about it,” Nguyen said. “Everyone sees the litter, so someone needs to do something about it, and it starts with the individual.”

Summer Dow and Veronica Zhang, University of Arizona students, volunteered on Saturday in hopes of helping the environment.

“I just wanted to do something on the weekend that would help the overall Tucson community,” Dow said.

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