CRESTVIEW — Theresa Carroll wasn’t at her desk Thursday morning. Mike Sterner wasn’t shelving groceries. Doug Hemphill wasn’t managing his staff. Brandon Diamond wasn’t flipping burgers. And JB Whitten and Betsy Roy weren’t over at City Hall.

They were just some of nearly 80 volunteers who, with their supervisors’ blessings, took the morning off and pitched in during the annual United Way Day of Caring in Crestview.

United Way of Okaloosa and Walton Counties CEO Ken Hinrichs said they contributed at least $170,000 worth of labor during the morning.

Overall, more than 800 volunteers participated in four Days of Caring in their communities in the neighboring counties, he said.

“It was a spectacular contribution they gave,” Hinrichs said.

The volunteers spread out across the community, performing tasks such as painting, yard work, erecting shelves and pressure washing at schools, charities and Wounded Warriors’ residences.

GIVING AND HELPING

“We just wanted to give back to our community,” Publix manager Tim Bryant said of his team of 10 employees. “I didn’t even have to bend their arms. They’re all volunteers.”

“We love helping out where we can,” Publix employee Michael Price, who’s also an Army National Guardsman, said. “We provide great quality service to our customers in the store as well as out of the store. Personally, I love serving my country and my community.”

While Bryant, Price and their colleagues were painting railings and ramps at Safe Connections, Whataburger employee Brandon Diamond, a self-described “professional burger-flipper,” and his team were painting Crestview Manor’s arts and crafts room.

“We do it (Day of Caring) because it’s a joy to serve the community,” Diamond said. “We’re more than just burger-flippers. It’s good to do stuff like this that makes other people smile. We live for smiles.”

REWARDING…AND FUN

At the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Community Outreach Director Melissa Forte marveled at the speed with which the Crestview Kiwanis team cleaned up the business’s grounds.

“You can get so much done with a group like this,” Forte said. “They’re getting so much done for us and we really, really appreciate it.”

Northwood Arts and Science Academy guidance counselor Erin Adams said the school was “so appreciative” of Acentria Insurance’s Sommer Castille and Theresa Carroll, who painted the media center doors and spread mulch in a garden area.

“They’re so awesome,” Adams said. “They even ran to Ace Hardware to get more mulch when we ran out.”

To the volunteers, the time spent at their respective work assignments was rewarding on multiple levels.

“We work at desks all day,” Carroll said as she emptied a sack of mulch. “This is fun!”