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Newcomer gives caring hands to gift wrap station

November 30, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

Charlie Newcomer is no stranger to wrapping gifts, having owned and operated R. Bruce Carson Jewelers for 20 years.

So it seems quite natural to see the energetic 77-year-old American Red Cross volunteer at the Caring Hands gift wrap station at Valley Mall every holiday season.

"I usually set up things on Monday mornings, and then I work on Fridays until about 2 p.m.," Newcomer said.

The 15th annual fundraising effort began Nov. 20 and will continue through Christmas Eve. The hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Those who avail themselves of the gift wrapping service are asked to give a donation. Some will give a small amount, while others are quite generous.

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"I wrapped three small gifts for a man last year, and he gave $20," Newcomer recalled.

On a recent afternoon, Beverly and Bob Kinsey came by with two large presents that needed more wrapping skills than they could muster.

"We knew about this, so we came here with our grandchildren's presents," Beverly Kinsey said. She and her husband walked away quite pleased with the job Newcomer did on their gifts.

Wrapping paper, ribbons, gift cards and other supplies are provided by Valley Mall, Cosmic Pet, UPS and Berwick-Offray, Newcomer said.

More than 15,000 sheets of tissue paper, gift tags and bows are used each year along with 1,020,000 square feet of wrapping paper.

"We have so many other supporters, and of course, we couldn't do any of this without our volunteers," Newcomer said.

Last year, the Red Cross earned $17,800 through Caring Hands to help provide services in the community.

Newcomer said his 30-year association with the Red Cross began one day as he was walking from his store to the bank.

"I ran into a friend who said he had put my name in for the Red Cross board," Newcomer said. Without much choice, Newcomer agreed, and is glad he did.

Before he owned the jewelry store, which now is owned by his son, Thomas, Newcomer managed a Safeway.

"I left there in 1974 because they wanted me to open on Sundays, and I wouldn't," he said.

Devout in his faith, Newcomer is active at the Welty Church of the Brethren.

"I do some lay ministry on the side," he said. "I preach the Bible, and that's all I need. Even if they call me Saturday night to preach Sunday morning, I'm ready."

In addition to the Red Cross and his church, Newcomer also volunteers at Waynesboro (Pa.) Hospital, which is just a short distance from the home he shares with his wife, Catherine.

"I'm a happy man," Newcomer said. "A man told me I was like a breath of fresh air when I talk to people I meet in the hospital waiting room."

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