By Kelly Schmidt, content manager at United Way of Salt Lake

When the final bell tolls on the last day of school, students rejoice at the chance to step away from the bustling hallways, looming project deadlines, and exams to enjoy summer break.

But the summer months are anything but quiet on the Cottonwood High School campus. Between four summer programs, practices for several sports teams, and rentals of the 3,000-person auditorium, summer break leaves little downtime for the building to be deep cleaned and prepped for the upcoming school year.

For the last several years, United Way of Salt Lake (UWSL) has helped Cottonwood High and other partnering high schools clean classrooms so the custodial staff can focus on other pressing projects on the grounds through our annual Day of Action volunteer project. With about 110 classrooms and less than 10 custodial staff members, Cottonwood High is in need of some extra hands to accomplish this project.

“We have so much maintenance and cleaning and preparation for the next school, that our custodians can’t take care of everything,” said Principal Terri Roylance. “If we can have people come help us, that is amazing. That way we can make sure the school and staff are ready to serve our kids all summer long and when school starts in August.”

UWSL is looking for 250 volunteers to deep clean classrooms, paint the back fence of the baseball field, and pack snack and hygiene kits from 9 a.m. to noon June 22 at Cottonwood High. Volunteers of all ages are welcome to participate in this project and any under age 18 must have a parent or guardian present.

The need for extra help for summer deep cleaning isn’t for the lack of efforts from the school’s fierce volunteer base — its parents. Cottonwood High’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) runs the school’s food pantry during the year and focuses its summer efforts on filling more than 150 backpacks with school supplies for students in need, said Meredith Muller, Cottonwood’s UWSL community school director.

Cottonwood High’s student body comes from schools across South Salt Lake and the Murray-Holladay area — about one-third coming from the South Salt Lake. The socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds of the school’s 1,700 students range greatly: 12 percent are refugees, 18 percent are learning English, and nearly 50 percent are eligible for free and reduced lunch.

Tens of thousands of volunteers across the globe will participate in Day of Action projects on or around June 22 with their local United Ways. Although the projects vary, all volunteers will be united in the opportunity to be part of solutions that make a real difference in people’s lives.

Join us in supporting Cottonwood High School and United Way of Salt Lake community schools by signing up to volunteer at For more information, contact Volunteer Engagement Coordinator Courtney Dean by email at or by phone at 801-736-7706.

Kelly Schmidt is the content manager at UWSL and is a former journalist. To contact her, email Follow Kelly on Twitter @kelgiffo.