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United Way holds first Junior Day of Caring

May 30, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

Boonsboro High School sophomore Heather Ricketts hammered away to help her community on Wednesday as part of the United Way Junior Day of Caring.

She repaired broken cabinets at Girls Inc. while her peers scrubbed walls and vans at the Hagerstown-based service agency.

Heather and about 50 other students from North Hagerstown High School, Boonsboro High School, Clear Spring High School and the Washington County Technical High School volunteered their time to work at four United Way member agencies in Hagers-town.

The students sorted donated food at Food Resources Inc., tackled maintenance projects at Girls Inc., helped Parent-Child Center employees move into a new building and landscaped at the Mason-Dixon Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

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The event gave students a chance to earn a portion of the 75 student service learning (SSL) hours they need to graduate while learning more about agencies that serve a variety of needs in the community, said county resource teacher Ben Brauer, who coordinates the SSL program for the Washington County Board of Education.

The partnership between the Board's SSL program and United Way was a "natural fit" because United Way member agencies serve residents countywide, Brauer said.

Students participating in the Junior Day of Caring saw firsthand how United Way agencies can benefit people in their own neighborhoods, Brauer said.

Agency directors hoped the event would emphasize the importance of volunteerism and foster in participants a sense of accomplishment, they said.

"I hope they feel good about what they're doing - helping other children and families who might not have what they do," Parent-Child Center Executive Director Millie Lowman said.

Clear Spring High School freshmen Andrea Divelbiss and Kara Kreps, both 15, said they didn't mind cleaning the kitchen at the center on North Potomac Street because they realized their efforts would free time for center employees to help pregnant teenagers.

"I think it's neat what this place does," Andrea said.

Other Clear Spring High students cleaned out the attic, pulled ivy from the building's exterior walls and sorted donated clothing in the basement.

The United Way Junior Day of Caring likely will be expanded next year to include students from more schools, Brauer said.

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