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No goofing off at this summer work camp

July 14, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Having helped replace a roof and build a deck and a wheelchair ramp, Caroline Clark returned to Chambersburg Area Middle School Tuesday afternoon for a shower and a meal.

"I like working hard and helping people, and I don't mind getting gross for a good cause," said the 19-year-old, who attends Lifegate Ministries in Quincy, Pa.

Moussing her hair after a shower, Samantha Hallett, 16, of Shippensburg, Pa., said she is working on a house in Chambersburg that needs a ramp, new siding and drywall in the bathroom.

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They are two of the 125 young people, along with 75 adult volunteers, who are tackling more than 70 home- improvement and repair jobs this week during the seventh annual summer work camp sponsored by the Chambersburg Project. Director Tim Moran said about 30 churches, including two from outside Franklin County, Pa., sent members to the camp.

The number of volunteers and projects are up from 2003, when campers completed 44 projects for low-income, disabled and elderly homeowners throughout Franklin County, Moran said.

"I'm not surprised, because word is getting around about our services," he said. The nonprofit corporation received 108 applications for help that were whittled down to those most in need of home repairs to keep them in their homes.

"That's one of the purposes of this organization, to help them keep their homeownership. We don't do rental properties," Moran said. By doing repairs that owners are physically or financially unable to do, Moran said the residents can continue to live independently.

At the High Street home of Doris Stoner, Kim Cordell lifted an 80-pound pack of shingles onto her shoulder. Above her, a crew was nailing down tar paper for a new porch roof.

"We just got done building that gate back there," the 15-year-old from Greencastle, Pa., said, pointing to Stoner's back yard. "It's gorgeous," she said.

Haven Drooger, 13, of Quincy, Pa., said she and Cordell also cleared debris as the crew tore off the old roof.

"My husband died last August and we were going to get this done," Stoner said of the leaking porch roof. "I heard about the Chambersburg Project and I'm so glad, because they're the most courteous people you could meet," she said.

Moran's wife, Barbara, said about $20,000 was needed to cover building materials and other expenses this week. The Franklin County Board of Commissioners earlier this year allocated $30,000 to the group from a housing trust fund.

The corporation also runs the Chambersburg Project Home Improvement Outlet in New Franklin, Pa., selling surplus and used building materials and fixtures, Tim Moran said. The organization plans to begin operating year-round, doing yard work and other services for those in need, he said.

Members of the 20 work crews, many of whom are attending their second or third camp, began filtering back to the school at about 4 p.m. Butch Giarth, an adult volunteer from Roaring Spring, Pa., said he spent his day fixing a bathroom in which the toilet was on the verge of falling through the rotted floor.

After getting cleaned up and fed, the campers, who paid $150 for a week of hard labor, take part in worship programs and other activities at night. They sleep in classrooms, the floors of which are covered wall-to-wall with sleeping bags, air mattresses, cots, clothes and personal belongings.

"It's nice to go to a camp where you're making a difference in someone's life and working for God," said Sarah Walters, 16, of Greencastle.

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