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Day of Caring lives up to its name in Panhandle

September 14, 1999

Day of CaringBy BRYN MICKLE and DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writers

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Common household tasks like washing windows and sorting canned goods took on new meanings Tuesday for Karen Walsh and her classmates.

The Faith Christian Academy students spent five hours in Martinsburg working at the Salvation Army as part of the United Way's annual Day of Caring in the Eastern Panhandle.

"It's our chance to do something for the community," said Walsh, a 17-year-old junior at the Martinsburg school.

Volunteers across Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties spent much of Tuesday doing community service tasks to kick off the United Way's 1999 donation campaign.

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More than 1,000 volunteers worked on projects around the Eastern Panhandle, organizers said.

"Helping others like this gives you a broader realization of what's going on in your own town," Martinsburg Salvation Army Capt. Andy Gilliam said.

Three projects planned for the Salvation Army quickly turned into 10 projects once Gilliam saw how fast the students worked.

"They did in five hours what it would have taken us months to do," Gilliam said.

In similar scenes played out across the Eastern Panhandle, volunteers took time Tuesday to do everything from fixing roofs in Berkeley County to collecting emergency Y2K supplies in Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

Staff and students from Valley College business school in Martinsburg painted walls, cleaned out kennels and walked dogs at the Berkeley County Humane Society on W.Va. 9.

While skills with a paint brush might not translate to the word processor, the lessons of volunteering are important for success in the business world, Valley College Director Anne Ganse said.

"It's important to be part of the community you work in," Admissions Representative Courtney Munsterman added.

Turnout for this year's Day of Caring in Berkeley and Morgan counties was on pace to beat last year's numbers, United Way Executive Director Dave Ranck said.

In Jefferson County, about 400 volunteers painted picnic tables in parks, repaired a women's shelter and finished work on a boys and girls club, among other projects.

At the Shenandoah Women's Counseling Center on North Lawrence Street, volunteers replaced the floor on a back porch, painted and did other remodeling work, said volunteer Peggy Smith.

A number of companies donated labor and materials to improve the domestic violence center. They included Shiley Construction Co., Wayne Johnson's Remodeling and Construction and Valley Hardware.

Volunteers from a construction company poured a new concrete sidewalk for the center before other volunteers arrived Tuesday, Smith said.

Many of the companies and individuals who worked on the women's center worked on the building in past years, Smith said. Many workers often talk about what they hope to do in the building in coming years.

"You just start doing this and you get such a good feeling. Everyone starts looking forward to it," Smith said.

Up the street at the Boys and Girls Club of Jefferson County, groups including Royal Vendors, C.T. Walls and the City of Charles Town donated labor and materials to improve the center.

Volunteers painted the outside of the building, installed a drop ceiling inside, trimmed brush and laid mulch around the exterior, said Tim Grove, executive director of the club.

The club moved into a former paint storage building owned by Maytag Corp., and considerable work has been done to the building to convert it for use by the club.

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