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Washington leaves behind a legacy of fun

May 09, 2001

Washington leaves behind a legacy of fun



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

kimy@herald-mail.com

Summer meant more than just the end of the school year to youngsters who went on annual day trips to amusement parks arranged by Margaret Washington.

"She wanted to give them something to look forward to," said Carolyn Brooks.

Washington, who lived at 458 Park Place in Hagerstown, died Monday after a battle with cancer. She was 74.

"Her trips were her legacy," said Brooks.

For more than 15 years, Washington organized the For Our Kids Sake bus trips to such places as Kings Dominion near Richmond, Va., Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va. and Dorney Park in Allentown, Pa.

The idea for the trips came when Washington and her daughter, also Margaret Washington, were talking about summer activities and trying to think of ways to keep neighborhood youngsters busy.

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"She saw the kids outside doing nothing and said 'We need to take a trip,'" said her daughter.

When Washington first started taking the youngsters on the trips, they packed two buses. The program grew to the point the youngsters filled four buses.

Each January, Washington would begin soliciting churches, businesses and residents for money to sponsor children in the community, her daughter said.

"She worked day and night to get it done," she said.

Her son, James Washington, said it was important to his mother to find a way to buy tickets for as many young people as possible.

Not only did Washington find ways to pay for the trip, she found chaperones as well as people to donate food and drinks, he said.

The trips were planned very carefully to insure that those aboard the buses had a good time, her daughter said.

"She would stay up all night figuring out the seating so that friends could be together," she said.

"I loved them because all our friends would go," said Nyoka Scott, 15, of Hagerstown.

Knimaeja Giles, 13, of Hagerstown, said Washington's outgoing nature made the trips fun.

"She really cared about people," Giles said.

At the parks, Washington would go on some of the tamer rides, her daughter said.

As she got older, she realized she would have to pass the task of organizing the trips to someone else.

"It was disappointing but it got to be too much," her daughter said.

About five years ago Washington's neighbor and friend, Clara Broadus, took over the day trips.

"She liked doing things for the kids," Broadus said.

Broadus said Washington will also be remembered for initiating a reunion for students who attended the old North Street School before it was integrated.

Washington also served on the Human Rights Board at the Potomac Center, she said.

"She was well-liked and well-respected. She'll be missed," said Broadus.

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