A group of Girl Scouts couldn't get enough of stacking and labeling some 6,500 cans of tomato sauce Saturday morning at the Fresno Community Food Bank.
Their enthusiasm to help gave them a special glow among more than 500 people volunteering for more than 25 Valley organizations during United Way of Fresno County's "Day of Caring."
"I think if you are one of those people (that needs help), I think you would want people to help you," said Ashley Cummings, 8. "Treat other people the way you want to be treated."
"And maybe they will treat you the same way," added Amoni Allen, 7.
Amoni said she wanted to volunteer because "when I see someone get hurt, it hurts me."
Besides which, "it was really fun, I want to come back again," Ashley said. Her fellow Scouts echoed with "Me too," and asked "Yeah, can we come back?" directed at Scout leader Sheri Manning-Cartwright of Fresno Troop 2772.
The girls kept asking during their breaks when they could get back to work, Manning-Cartwright said with a smile.
More than 20 groups and businesses volunteered at different locations Saturday morning, including the Central California Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Central Valley Ronald McDonald House next to Children's Hospital Central California in Madera County.
At the Central California SPCA, volunteers helped with "cat socialization" -- getting them used to being around humans -- and recorded information about the cats to give potential adopters more information. They also walked and bathed dogs, and made items for the animals, including blankets, bird feeders, cat toys and "hay tubes" for mice, rats and rabbits to chew on while in their cages.
At the Ronald McDonald House, where families can stay for free and be near their children who are hospitalized with long-term illnesses, United Way volunteers bagged donated toiletries to give to families. Volunteers also helped stock a food pantry and organize the nonprofit's garage.
"I think when you realize you've got a lot of blessings, you need to give back," said Brenda Budke of Fresno, who's volunteered at the event for 22 years. Her husband, Barry, was honored on Saturday for volunteering the longest -- 25 years.
He started before the event even had a name, leading a team of volunteers from The Fresno Bee.
"Once you start doing it, it gets in your blood," he said.
Jonathan Muñoz, volunteer coordinator for the Ronald McDonald House, said the Day of Caring event really helps "plant the seeds for community engagement" and gets more people exposed to a variety of Valley nonprofits that can use help.
"They are our backbone, honestly, because all of our work is carried by volunteer support," Muñoz said.
No matter where they lend a hand, volunteers have a "great importance" in ensuring the Valley's nonprofits survive and thrive, said Sarah Pedelty, volunteer coordinator for the food bank.
"We could not do what we do without them," Pedelty said. "It's always inspiring to see the community come out and help. They sacrificed a Saturday to do something for their community."
Staffer Mark Crosse contributed to this report. Reach the reporter at (559) 441-6386 or email@example.com.