Helping hands

Dana Toth (left) of North Charleston talks with Kathy Jackson, head of Junior Girls Day Out, during a volunteer fair Wednesday at Blackbaud on Daniel Island. The fair hosted more than 35 nonprofits and was open to the public this year.

Grace Beahm

Daniel Island -- More than 35 Lowcountry nonprofits gathered Wednesday to raise awareness of local issues at Blackbaud's annual volunteer fair.

The fair exposed company employees to volunteer opportunities in the community. This year was the first in which the public was invited. A few hundred people attended.

"I think that was a great thing for them to add on," said Elisa Mundis, resource development coordinator for Halos, an organization that directs resources to abused children and their caregivers.

Roberta Freer, development manager with the Carolina Lowcountry Chapter of the American Red Cross, said Blackbaud is good to area nonprofits. She added that the company is a consistent source of volunteers.

The fair drew about 300 Blackbaud employees annually in its previous two years, said Melissa Nelson, a spokeswoman for the company.

Timothy Wittig, a programmer for Blackbaud, said volunteerism is common at the company, with employees regularly inviting one another to work with various nonprofits.

"It's got a good volunteering culture," he said.

Ben Walker heard about the fair through his job at paper manufacturer Kapstone. He said he was looking for ways for his family to begin volunteering.

"I think it's a good idea to have it all in one place," he said.

The company gathered the participating nonprofits from a mix of companies it had previously hosted at volunteer fairs and recommendations from Trident United Way.

Christian MacIver also was researching volunteer opportunities for her family. She brought her young son and daughter with her to the fair.

"It's a good way to see what the community's needs are and what your interests might be," she said.

Trident United Way also unveiled its Corporate Volunteer Council at the fair. The council is a volunteering cooperative among various Lowcountry businesses, including Bank of America, Santee Cooper and MeadWestvaco. Sally Ehrenfried, community relations manager with Blackbaud, said the program connects the employees of participating companies with volunteer opportunities.

"We're really here to support local businesses with employee volunteerism," she said.

The CVC's next meeting will be Aug. 11, when it will discuss opportunities to volunteer in local schools. People interested in volunteering opportunities can contact Trident United Way for more information.