Can you dig it?
Thank you for helping us turnip the beet!

BIG Day of Giving on May 6th was a powerful day in the Sacramento region. In just 24 hours, $3.02 million was raised for nearly 400 nonprofits in our region. It was truly inspiring to see what kind of impact can be made in just a short amount of time thanks to our community foundations, generous donors, community-minded corporate partners and nonprofits.

At United Way, we were so excited to be part of the excitement of BIG Day of Giving and we decided to do something BIG with the funds we raised and build community gardens in our neighborhoods to cultivate healthy children, families and communities.  

As United Way’s Program Officer for our Fit Kids project, I was so excited about this new endeavor. Across our region, we are working with nonprofit partners to increase the number of children who are living a healthy and active lifestyle – and adding more community gardens to promote healthy eating aligns so well with the work we are doing in Fit Kids!

We asked for donors to make a promise for a healthier community and oh my, did our community respond!  United Way raised $10,870 to build community gardens in just one day. Thank you to all of our generous donors!

Our hope is for these gardens to be used as a tool to promote healthy lifestyle choices to future generations and foster the growth of active and involved citizens. We knew that to make the biggest impact and create sustainable gardens, we needed to enlist experts to help us determine where to build the gardens.

We opened an application process to our nonprofit partners to apply for the garden funds and used the help of Master Gardener extraordinaire, Bill Maynard from the City of Sacramento. I’m so grateful to Bill for volunteering his time to help United Way.  While I love to garden, I have a difficult time keeping my lonely cherry tomato plant thriving in a container on my patio. We would have been lost without his support!

I learned a lot about how to build a sustainable garden from Bill’s expertise. Since we want our gardens to be used for many years to come, Bill suggested we use more durable materials, like redwood or concrete blocks to build the garden beds.

We are proud to announce that we will be building SIX community gardens, thanks to the generous support we received through BIG Day of Giving! These gardens will benefit inner-city teens, school children, formerly homeless families and children, adults with disabilities and low-income families.

These gardens will not only be used as a source of nourishment, but also serve as a tool for individuals to develop life skills and build a sense of community.

On September 12th, at United Way’s 2nd Annual Day of Caring, these six community gardens will be built by volunteers and will be ready for citizens to enjoy for years to come.  The best part is, you can get involved and help us plant seeds for change at Day of Caring.

We will be recruiting hundreds of volunteers to help us build community gardens and other needed service projects across our region. Registration for Day of Caring will be open in mid-August and I encourage you to rally your friends, families and coworkers and join us!

Check back to see our progress as we build community gardens and work towards creating a healthier community for all!

Kristina Ricci is the Program Officer for United Way’s Fit Kids and is helping to improve the lives of kids in our region.