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‘Operation Uplift’ Valley of the Sun United Way Civic Service Campaign Kicks Off
Valley of the Sun United Way’s “Operation Uplift” campaign kicked off Saturday, Sept. 8 in Maryvale, when about 150 volunteers came together to spruce up two local schools, plant 52 community fall gardens and stuff 1,560 backpacks for Arizona students battling hunger.
It was the first in a series of special events planned between now and April seeking to grant more Arizonans access to healthy foods, safe housing opportunities, scenic surroundings and other elements that combat poverty and improve quality of life.
September’s Operation Uplift event welcomed representatives from PetSmart, UPS, Junior League, the Phoenix Police Cadets, the Phoenix Fire Department, Phi Beta Sigma, UnitedHealthcare, Mercy Care and U.S. Foods, among others, as they teamed up to improve social conditions for some of the region’s most underserved communities.
In addition to cleaning and organizing a library and repainting four bathrooms at schools within the Cartwright School District, volunteers came together to plant crops at community gardens to broaden access to healthy produce in areas where many families experience food insecurity. Volunteers also helped ensure that more than 1,500 children did not go hungry over the weekend by stuffing backpacks with healthy foods as part of the VSUW’s WeekEnd Hunger program.
“Community volunteers really stepped it up for this event, and we anticipate that engagement will continue to grow at our upcoming Operation Uplift events,” said Francisco Avalos, director of engagement for Valley of the Sun United Way. “Whether you’re interested in feeding the hungry, helping schools improve learning outcomes for students, or providing access to the tools necessary to break the cycle of poverty to community residents, there’s an Operation Uplift event that could greatly benefit from your assistance.”
The campaign, which is co-chaired by Mercy Care’s Kelli Donley Williams and U.S. Foods’ Jenny Holsman Tetrault, will serve a number of Valley communities between now and this spring, among them Maryvale, Guadalupe, Central City and South Phoenix.
“Addressing social determinants of health is key to integrating health care,” Williams said. “That’s why we partner with community organizations, like Valley of the Sun United Way. Improving social conditions, like a person’s access to nutritious food, safe and affordable housing, and reliable transportation, improves individuals overall wellbeing and health outcomes.”
Other Operation Uplift service events are on the calendar in the coming months, all of which will culminate in the VSUW’s first-ever Week of Action, which kicks off April 15, 2019. The seven-day effort seeks to help break the cycle of poverty by encouraging community members to come together and take part in a series of civic service opportunities.