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Cruisers are driven to help others

April 15, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - If the group of mostly middle-aged men who make up the membership of the West Side Cruisers have anything in common besides their love of cars, it's that they like to raise money to give away.

Their good works every year, helping a dozen area residents who have become seriously ill or otherwise have fallen on hard times, earned them national recognition as one of only four car clubs in the country to win the Golden Rule Award. It's sponsored by Eagle One, a division of the Valvoline Co. that makes car appearance products.

Besides a plaque, the Greencastle club members will get a supply of car care products to keep their stock and custom cars showroom shiny plus a supply motor oil.

Mostly, members of the group say, they're just proud to have the award. They want to hang it in the restored historic railroad station in Greencastle where they meet every month.

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"This is the first time we ever even sent in an application for an award," said Meredith "Buddy" Merrick, owner of a bright red, slightly modified 1987 Corvette with chromed engine and real rosewood dash that he wouldn't trade for anything.

Merrick really loves this car, but not any more than Ron Gipe, 55, of Chambersburg, Pa., loves his red '57 Chevy convertible, or Vernon Schroyer, 51, from State Line, Pa., loves his original unrestored, newly painted '65 Buick, or John Davis his mint '65 mustang with its V-8 motor, or Dave Griffin, at 22 the club's youngest member, his little green S-10 pickup with its flame paint job.

For most members their vehicles are not for daily use. They could get dirty or damaged in an accident. These wheels are babied.

Merrick said the club has 37 active members who talk mostly of frame-up restorations, customized, classic and modified vehicles. They cruise in convoys, usually to some destination like a diner for dinner. Most weekends find them at car shows where they meet with others who share their interest.

They compete in car shows, as a club and as individuals. All have won ribbons and trophies - testaments to the work it takes to fix up a trophy car.

And they love to drive their cars in parades.

"We all share a common love of cars," Merrick said. "It's the glue that sticks us together."

On the serious side, the club holds fund-raising events to get the money they give away each year, usually $3,000 to $5,000, Davis said.

"We make money to help people," he said. "When we put on a car show, it's exhausting work and it takes everybody to make the wheels turn, but you raise money for somebody who needs it and that's fulfilling."

They also holds dances and drawings, said Davis, the club's vice president.

A club committee decides who gets the money every year. It's usually doled out in amounts from $500 to $1,000, depending on need.

Sometimes it goes for a last wish for a dying child, or to help a sick child's family with medical bills. People suffering from terminal cancer are big on their list as well, as are people temporarily down on their luck or who have lost their possessions from fires or other disasters.

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