GREENFIELD – Days like Thursday are some Caryn Thompson’s favorite work days.

Surrounding by her Elanco colleagues, a baseball cap on her head and paint covering her fingers, Thompson stepped away from her desk for an afternoon, picking up a paintbrush instead of her research material and spending a day giving back to the community she calls home.

Thursday marked Eli Lilly and Co.’s 10th annual Global Day of Service.

Every autumn, more than 24,000 Eli Lilly employees worldwide — including hundreds from Greenfield-based Elanco — participate in the volunteer day, when employees in 65 countries exchange their daily duties for service projects within the communities where they work.

Story continues below gallery

Employees participated in more than 40 projects across Central Indiana, including about a dozen in Hancock County.

Thompson and other employees from Greenfield’s Elanco headquarters visited some the county’s most prominent nonprofit organizations to lend a hand.

They swung hammers at the construction site of Greenfield’s second Habitat for Humanity house, and they organized shelves at the local food pantry. They packed some 15,000 meals to feed the hungry, in partnership with Million Meal Movement, and they helped paint a mural at the local chapter of the Indiana Canine Assistants Network, according to a press release.

Global Day of Service is just one reason Thompson keeps working as a researcher for Elanco, even when other opportunities might arise, she said. She loves being able to work for a company so dedicated to community service and giving back.

In some way, each project addressed Elanco’s core company mission of enriching lives with safe and healthy food and companionship, said Thompson, who volunteered Thursday at the Hancock County Humane Society.

It was a simple love of cats that drew Thompson to choose the local humane society as her volunteer site Thursday. She and team of about 10 of her peers spent the morning painting the interior of the cats-only shelter, located on U.S. 40 in downtown Greenfield. In the afternoon, they built a new enclosure inside that will be used to give female cats some alone time after they’ve given birth to their kittens.

Around the corner, another group put in some sweat equity refurbishing the bleachers in the multipurpose arena at the Hancock County Fairgrounds.

They chatted as they worked, sharing stories about their jobs and their families as they scraped the peeling and faded green paint away from the wooden benches and then replaced it with a fresh coat.

Getting to know coworkers while giving back to the community is part of the joy of the company’s Global Day of Service, Thompson said. Some employees who work closely together choose to volunteer at the same site as a kind of team-building exercise; others venture out on their own, volunteering with a group of strangers, so they can meet and interact with new people, she said.

And in some cases, the Global Day of Service inspires employees to volunteer with an organization year ’round.

Eli Lilly employee Ty Hodges first volunteered at Nameless Creek Youth Camp during a Global Day of Service event a few years ago. Now, she’s one of the nonprofit campgrounds core group of volunteers.

It was the love and enthusiasm of director Jerry Bell that drew her in during that first visit, Hodge said. And now, she helps out the campground whenever and however she can.

She was back there Thursday for Day of Service alongside some of her coworkers, slowly working their way through the list of chores Bell had drawn up that included mostly landscaping work.

Bell, who also rolled up his sleeves at the camp Thursday, said the help Lilly and Elanco employees provide each year is outstanding. Nameless Creek Youth Camp is completely volunteer-run, and it can be difficult getting people out to the site when work needs to be done.

“It’s like running a farm by yourself,” Bell laughed. “We can always use an extra pair of hands.”

Author photo
Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or