Haysville students opt for service over spring break

Campus High students Michelle Kha, left, and Linda Sanchez take part in their first Youth Days of Caring.

By Travis Mounts

Last Friday, a quartet of Haysville students was hard at work at a United Way warehouse in Wichita’s Old Town District.

The students – Alyssa Kates of Haysville West Middle School and Campus High students Allena Kates, Michelle Kha and Linda Sanchez – were sorting and taping up a wide variety of items and stocking the shelves of the GIV (Give Items of Value) Warehouse on north Washington Street. The warehouse serves as a distribution and shopping center for many different charitable groups located in the seven-county area served by United Way of the Plains.

Their efforts are part of the annual Youth Days of Caring, a spring break program that connects youth with non-profits.

“I didn’t want to sit around all day” over spring break, said Kha. “Linda and I have volunteered all week.”

Kha and Sanchez were volunteering for the first time. The Kates sisters have offered their services over spring break for three or four years, they said.

Kha and Sanchez also volunteered at The Lord’s Dinner. The Kates spent time at O.J. Watson Park in south Wichita and at the office of Wichita Festivals Inc., which is gearing up for the Wichita River Festival in just over two months.

“It’s fun knowing you’re making a difference in the community,” said Allena Kates.

Mark Stump, the director of direct services for United Way, said the annual volunteer program held over spring break benefits the students as well as the organizations that the students volunteer for.

“We get the opportunity to teach them about something in the community they don’t know about,” he said. The GIV Warehouse recycles donations from companies that otherwise would throw them away. “The students see how we pass along the product to agencies in the community. Anytime we get youth in our program utilizing their energy, we get a lot done in short bursts.”

Eleven volunteers last Friday helped do nearly a week’s worth of work in a three-hour window, Stump said, and United Way didn’t have to pay for that 33 hours worth of work.

Last year, the United Way through the GIV Warehouse helped more than 200 different non-profits. Items donated ranged from paint and auto products to office furniture and supplies, food and toothpaste.

Office furniture donations sometimes go to the agencies, which then allows them to spend more of their budgets on services or labor.

“It helps them reduce their overhead so they can put their money into other things,” Stump said.

Other items, such as food, clothes and diapers, go directly to the nonprofits’ customers.

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the March 29 print edition of they Haysville Sun-Times. Subscribe to see stories like this first and for all your community news. Call 316-540-0500 today to get home delivery next week.

Alyssa Kates, left, and Allena Kates have spent several year volunteering for the United Way’s Youth Days of Caring, a spring break volunteer program.