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South just keeps giving

December 20, 2001

South just keeps giving



Editor's note: This is the eighth in a series of stories running on the 12 days before Christmas to recognize individuals and groups who make the holidays and every day better for others.

By ANDREW SCHOTZ / andrews@herald-mail.com

At every party and monthly meeting of the Manor Church Senior Citizens, each person gets a bell, an angel, a cross, an artificial flower or some other small gift.

Ruth South crafts them all.

"In August, I made one that means a lot to me ...," she said. "It was a prayer rock. It had a (Bible) verse with it."

Some members of her group keep each favor, going back to when South became president seven years ago.

"They'll tell me what I (have made)," South said. "I've forgotten."

Sixty-nine people went to this year's Christmas party on Dec. 5, when Ruth South dressed as Mrs. Claus.

The women at the party received "toast grabbers," which South made from tongue depressors and clothespins.

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The men got braided "weather forecasters" to hang outside. Each strip said, "If it's wet, it's rainy. If it's white, it's snowing. If it's stiff, it's freezing. If it's moving, it's windy. If it's gone, somebody ripped it off."

South, 88, organizes the monthly meetings and holiday parties. She calls everyone in the group at least once a month to see how they're doing.

She oversaw a glove collection for the Washington County Commission on Aging, which will pass them to a homeless shelter.

Instead of exchanging Christmas gifts, the Manor Church Senior Citizens raise money for charity. Over the past few years, the cause has been Hospice of Washington County, which cares for the terminally ill.

The senior citizens raised $124 for hospice this year and $104 last year.

"If they can only put a dime in, that's all I care," South said. "That means as much as $10 because it means they've taken part."

Five years ago, hospice helped Ruth South's husband, Clarence South Jr., die more comfortably from cancer. Buck, as he was known, had worked for more than 40 years for Snowberger Oldsmobile in Hagerstown.

Ruth South retired in 1975 after a 20-year career as a clerk/typist with the city of Hagerstown.

She shares her home with Mickey, who she described as "part Lhasa Apso, part dog."

Ruth South's son, Clarence III, or Jack, lives next door.

Her grandson, Clarence IV, or Andy, lives elsewhere in Hagerstown.

Among her fraternal and other commitments, past and present, the Manor Church Senior Citizens are Ruth South's favorite.

"Everything I do," she said, "I do for my club."

Tomorrow: Western Maryland Hospital Center volunteer Jane Baer.

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