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Area residents, students reach out to others on Day of Caring

September 10, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

At least one of the annual United Way Day of Caring projects was so complex that it required heavy construction equipment to complete.

The annual event got under way Tuesday with an army of workers from City Hospital, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the U.S. Coast Guard showing up at the Berkeley Senior Services facility on High Street in Martinsburg, W.Va.

The senior citizens center has a trail system on its property, but portions of it washed out during recent heavy rains, said Teresa McCabe, publicity coordinator for the Day of Caring organized by the United Way of Berkeley and Morgan counties.

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About 25 volunteers turned out at the senior center to help lay new gravel on the trail system and make new trail patterns to protect the trail system from future erosion, McCabe said.

Volunteers from the Martinsburg-based 167th Airlift Wing of the Air National Guard then showed up with a backhoe and a dump truck to help haul dirt as part of the work, McCabe said.

"There was a lot of activity over here," McCabe said.

Elsewhere across the Eastern Panhandle, volunteers cleaned and made repairs at a domestic violence center, cleaned vehicles and offices at a Red Cross station, helped needy people with repairs around their homes, and made improvements to Boys and Girls clubs and parks.

The Day of Caring event is held each year to help organizations, especially nonprofit groups, make needed improvements to their facilities. In many cases, the work is offered to the organizations because they do not have the staff, time or money to make the improvements, organizers say.

Although organizers said they would not know until later how many people volunteered for Day of Caring, they said hundreds of people in each of the counties participated.

Some of the projects in Berkeley County, such as the one at the Berkeley Senior Services center, was so involved that work started weeks ago, McCabe said.

At the Shenandoah Women's Center on Martin Street, volunteers helped expand the home's living room and ripped up carpeting and put down linoleum.

In Jefferson County, members of the Shepherd College men's basketball team went to the Shepherdstown Day Care Center on German Street Extended to work on several projects, including removing junk from under a crawl space in the building.

"It was quite a site," said head coach Ken Tyler.

The basketball players stacked the old computers, toys, furniture and other items in a big pile outside the day-care center.

They also painted cafeteria furniture and parts of the building, including a large beam that ran along a floor.

Basketball player Esosa Imoisili said he had to reach behind a refrigerator to reach the beam.

"I'm 6-8, 6- 9, so bending over an hour and a half to get that was hard," Imoisili said.

Jaakko Koivula, another member of the team, said programs like this are rare back in his home town of Helsinki, Finland.

"I think it's more of an American thing," Koivula said.

It marked the eighth year the basketball team has worked at the day-care center, a rapidly growing facility that now serves about 90 children.

"I can't even imagine what I would have had to pay someone to do the work they did today," said Ruth Brown, director of the center.

At the Boys and Girls Club of Jefferson County on North Lawrence Street, about 15 volunteers helped finish concrete that was poured for a new outdoor seating area. The concrete was donated to the club by Mike Abbruzzese, owner of Potomac Construction Industries, said Pamela Holstein-Wallace, spokeswoman for the United Way of Jefferson County.

At Jefferson Memorial Park, volunteers painted a concession stand, and at Morgans Grove Park near Shepherdstown, about 45 volunteers painted a large fence and did landscaping work, Holstein-Wallace said.

Various needy families were identified in Jefferson County as needing help with various home repairs, Holstein-Wallace said.

In both counties, volunteers were treated to dinner for their work. In Jefferson County, dinner was held at Charles Town Races and Slots and in Berkeley County, volunteers enjoyed a meal that was provided by the Outback Steakhouse at War Memorial Park.

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