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Volunteers exhibit caring spirit

September 09, 1997

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A battalion of volunteers were mobilized across Berkeley and Morgan counties Tuesday, tackling 43 projects in the third annual United Way Day of Caring.

"This is a wonderful thing they do. Two years ago they painted all the woodwork on my house," said Virginia Crawford, 80, of 404 E. King St., Martinsburg. Hers was one of 10 homes of senior citizens that volunteers fixed up or did yard work around.

Crawford said half a dozen volunteers came to her house early Tuesday. They cleaned debris from her yard, mowed it and trimmed trees, leaving bags of yard waste, trash and branches on the curb.

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Arthritis has left Crawford unable to do yard work. "You don't appreciate what people can do for you until you can't do it any more yourself," she said.

Dave Ranck, executive director of United Way of Berkeley and Morgan Counties, said City Hospital provided breakfast for more than 500 volunteers in Berkeley County before they headed off to projects in Martinsburg, Hedgesville and Inwood. Another 200 volunteers worked on projects in Morgan County, including jobs at the Humane Society, the senior center and Red Cross offices, he said.

The event kicked off the United Way's 1997 campaign.

"Build a Caring Community" is this year's theme and the volunteers put in enough effort to build a house. Ranck said in-kind services last year - volunteer hours, donated materials and services - came to about $65,000. He predicted this year's figure will be higher.

"Businesses donated everything from garbage bags to paint to ceiling tiles. I'd say just about every business in the community has contributed," said Ranck, adding that the overall sponsor was One Valley Bank.

Some businesses donated sweat and elbow grease. "We've basically closed our office all three times and sent 25 people out to work," said Fred Hollida of Cox Nicholas Hollida CPAs in Martinsburg.

He spent the day at Berkeley Senior Services on North High Street and the senior center next door.

"I'm sort of the flower person," said Del. Vicki Douglas, D-Berkeley. She had been at Crawford's house in the morning and helped landscape at the senior services building, weeding and preparing plants for the winter.

"One of the saner things I do is work in the yard," the delegate joked. She said the day was an opportunity to get out and work with people she might not otherwise meet.

Also getting out were 17 students from Martinsburg High School. They were at the senior center with art teacher Karen Barrett, painting a country mural designed and drawn by Bonnie Shirley, who works at Gerrardstown Elementary School.

At Trinity Episcopal Church, 200 W. King St., Alfred Mayfield, Larry Hammonds and Frank Rozier Jr. were among the Veterans Affairs Medical Center residents landscaping the courtyard. The three Vietnam War combat veterans are in the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Resident Rehabilitation Program. Sue Pellish, former executive director of the two-county United Way, said the church plans to open the courtyard for use as a park during the day.

More veterans helped at War Memorial Park and other venues.

At the end of the day, after donating several thousand man hours of work, the volunteers were treated to dinner by Outback Steak House at War Memorial Park.

"It's people in the community helping people in the community," said Ranck.

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