BRISTOL, Va. —

City Police Department Officer Nathan Greene has made his share of arrests – but on Monday morning Greene was tasked with capturing and keeping the attention spans of 25 children as part of the kickoff of United Way’s Week of Caring.

“I really enjoy doing this,” Greene said while preparing to pop “Whales Tales” – a popular kids’ show on swimming safety – into a DVD player at the Little Hands Christian Child Care facility – as a tight circle of children gathered around the TV screen. “It’s fun for them and for me, too,” said Greene, who serves as the department’s community programs coordinator.

Greene and Sgt. Keith Feathers were among the scores of employees from area companies and organizations who took part on the first day of the United Way’s Week of Caring, which runs through Friday. The United Way of Bristol and United Way of Russell and Washington Counties are conducting their annual events this week. During the week, community businesses and organizations complete volunteer work, from painting, cleaning, landscaping, setting up picnic tables and lights and other chores, at various local agencies supported by the two United Way chapters: the Bristol chapter assists 28 non-profits while its counterpart in Russell and Washington counties helps 39 similar groups. United Way officials have pointed to the special week as a valuable opportunity for many non-profits to complete projects that might otherwise go unattended because they lack manpower and resources – while also allowing volunteers to see, firsthand, the type of work those agencies carry out each day. Greene and Feathers were showing the safety video to support the Red Cross’ Mountain Empire chapter, which is among the non-profits supported by the United Way of Bristol. In addition to showing the video, the policemen quizzed the Little Hands children on safe swimming and passed out safety-related stickers and temporary tattoos. “It’s wonderful having them here,” Catherine Ratliff, president of Little Hands, said of the officers. Also on Monday, volunteers from Bristol Regional Medical Center, Alpha Natural Resources, the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center and Bristol Virginia Utilities participated in Week of Caring events across Bristol, Russell and Washington counties.

Printed with permission:  Bristol Herald Courier, Roger Brown

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