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Volunteers to help spruce up houses

June 21, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Becky, Hannah and Amanda, all veterans of fixing up houses, surveyed the chipped and peeling paint of a clapboard house on Pleasant Street.

"I've done this before, but on a much smaller house," 15-year-old Becky Shifler said Sunday as she looked over the two-story mustard yellow home. Today, she and other youths from area churches will begin the arduous job of scraping and repainting the house.

At two dozen or so other homes around Franklin County this week, youths and adults will give their time and energy to help those who, because of age or disability, can't help themselves.

The Chambersburg Project involves about 125 volunteers, according to the Rev. Trevor Rosenberry, associate pastor at Chambersburg First Church of God. Some will work a day or two, but about 75 have set aside the entire week.

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About 30 youths and a dozen adults will spend their days working and their nights at Chambersburg Area Middle School, according to the Rev. Earl Mills, pastor of the First Church of God.

After working from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., they will take a shower and eat dinner, then take part in evening programs and youth group devotions before falling into sleeping bags for the night.

Youths from eight churches in Chambersburg, Greencastle, Pa., Shippensburg, Pa., and other communities are participating. Rosenberry said there were 44 requests for projects, at least 24 of which will be completed this week.

Mills said they will get to other projects as time and the number of volunteers permit.

"We'll be doing several wheelchair ramps, a lot of painting, some minor plumbing," Rosenberry said.

Adult volunteers, like James Black of Chambersburg and Galen Bricker of Greenvillage, Pa., will bring their expertise to the jobs. Mills said they will build a ramp onto the mobile home of a Fort Loudon, Pa., man with multiple sclerosis.

"If there's a fire in his mobile home, he can't get out ... It's exciting the kind of changes you can make in people's lives," he said.

"I did it last year and it was a blast, especially meeting the residents," said Hannah Koontz, 14, of St. Thomas, Pa. Last year she went to Butler, Pa., with about a dozen members of her church.

She said about 300 people from Michigan, North Carolina, Minnesota and other states banded together to help the needy in that community.

"The first house we did, we made a railing for the resident. She was blind," Shifler said. The railing went throughout her house and into the yard to help her get around her property, she said.

"I went to New Mexico on a mission trip," said Amanda Fahnestock, 15, of Chambersburg. She helped build a garage and learned other construction skills.

"We were called to help people and that's what we're doing," Shifler said when asked why she is spending a week working under a broiling summer sun.

At the Mill Road home of Isabelle Miller, a crew will replace the roof, trim shrubbery and repaint the pink trim.

"Two shades of pink. The same thing. I like pink," said Miller, 83, of her choice of colors.

"It takes away the boredom. I don't get that much company here," Miller said Sunday of the volunteers.

Nineteen businesses donated money or materials to the project, according to Mills. Volunteers contributed $150 each to cover meals and other expenses.

Mills said more are welcome to join them at the middle school.

"We want to invite people here any morning at 7:30 a.m. if anybody wants to give a day to help," he said.

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