EVANSVILLE, Ind. — A massive volunteer force, 1,243 people to be exact, set out to make a difference Friday.

They pulled weeds, mulched, scrubbed toys, cleaned kitchens, sorted clothes, painted, fixed stuff and did whatever else needed to be done at nonprofit agencies in Vanderburgh, Warrick and Spencer counties as part of the United Way of Southwestern Indiana’s 25th Day of Caring.

The volunteers got some early-morning inspiration from Walter McCarty, a one-time “Carver kid” who is now the University of Evansville head men’s basketball coach.

McCarty, who spoke at the annual Day of Caring kickoff breakfast, frequented Carver Community Organization, YMCA, Boys & Girls Club and other Evansville agencies while growing up. He said they taught him the importance of making right decisions, doing well in school and going to college.

McCarty said he stresses to his players the importance of giving back to the community, and he led the breakfast crowd in chants of “united we fight, united we win!” Those words were what sent volunteers off to their job sites.