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Retired postman still delivering for community

March 26, 2000|By ANDREA ROWLAND

A retired Hagerstown postman still delivers good news.

Robert L. Harshman Sr. spent 30 years walking 15 miles daily, bringing mail to West Hagerstown.

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"I loved the job. I loved being out with the people," said Harshman, 67. "In 30 years, I saw babies born, raised, get married and have their own kids."

He retired in 1987, but Harshman didn't stop serving those West End neighborhoods. He and his wife, Teresa, who live on Wakefield Road, joined the West Hagerstown Lions Club.

"The Lions Club is not a social club. It's a service club. Everybody has to do their share. I'm retired, so I get to do it all," Harshman said with a chuckle.

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The club's 21 members sell charter book ads, brooms, mints, pancakes, ham sandwiches and other food to raise funds for the many programs the Lions support.

"We raise funds so we can give it away," Harshman said. "Nobody gets paid in this job, believe me."

The Lions Club helps fund programs such as Leader Dog for the Blind, Youth Outreach, Diabetes Awareness, The Maryland Eye Bank and the Low Vision Research Center at John's Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

The club lends wheelchairs and other convalescent equipment, hosts bingo for senior citizens, sends blind children to camp and donates to more than a dozen local charities.

The Harshmans are among their club's most active members.

Teresa now serves as secretary/treasurer, and Bob is a "one-man committee" in charge of the club's Eyeglasses for the Needy program, he said.

"Bob is a true example of a dedicated Lion," said Donna Jackman, president of the West Hagerstown Lions Club.

He volunteers his time at Girls Inc., has taken charge of the club's ham sandwich sale, and is committed to the eyeglasses program, Jackman said.

Area Lions clubs pay for eye exams and glasses for children whose families qualify. Allegheny Optical in Valley Mall offers a price break for their services, Harshman said.

Hardly a days goes by during the school year without at least one call for new glasses, Harshman said.

"The only time I get a break from eyeglasses is during the summer," he said. "They break 'em. They lose 'em. They sit on 'em. They get in fights.

Then they call Harshman.

He said he likes to visit each child's home to meet families and discuss the program.

"I'm not a telephone man," Harshman said. "I like to go visit the people at their homes and see what's going on."

Each family is responsible for making appointments for eye exams. The Lions Club will replace broken or lost glasses once, which Harshman delivers, he said.

In the seven years since he took charge of the eyeglasses program, Harshman has served hundreds of children in Winter Street, Salem Avenue, Western Heights, Marshall Street and Conococheague elementary schools, he said.

He's received two thank you letters.

"I don't expect anything," Harshman said. "If I can help save one child's eyes, it's all worth it."

Anyone interested in joining the West Hagerstown Lions Club can call Harshman at 301-791-2841.

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