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REACH spring fling

April 19, 2005|by MARIE GILBERT/Staff Writer

A young volunteer came from the community room, cradling a box of cleaning supplies in her arms.

"I think we're on the ninth floor," Brittany Stranathan said to her friends waiting for her near the elevators.

The 16-year-old Boonsboro High School student waited patiently in a hallway crowded with teenagers who were armed with paper towels and bottles of glass cleaner.

Only a few people at a time could fit on the elevator, so it would be a while until everyone could get their chores started.

About 70 volunteers gathered early Saturday, April 16, at Potomac Towers and Walnut Towers in downtown Hagerstown to help residents with their spring cleaning.

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It was all part of Spring Fling, sponsored by REACH Caregivers - a faith-based, nonprofit organization dedicated to responding to people in need - to help senior citizens and people with disabilities.

"We've been doing this for about six years," said Terri Baker, executive director of REACH Caregivers. "It's an intergenerational activity. Everyone needs to do spring cleaning. But sometimes it's challenging for the elderly. That's where the young people come in."

Candice Craig, who works at REACH as a volunteer with Americorps, said they had no trouble finding volunteers to participate in Saturday's spring cleaning. "We have people from three different church groups, several school groups and Navy officers from Camp David. We've had a great response. People really wanted to get involved."

Craig noted that Saturday was National Youth Volunteer Day.

"So the fact that all these young people are here today is very appropriate," she said.

Before heading off to do their chores, Baker gave a pep talk.

"The number one thing about today," she said, "is visitation. We're not here just to spray Windex on glass. We're here to talk to people. This kind of project is about touching people. Some never get phone calls for weeks at a time. You can make such a difference in their lives."

The volunteers spent 10 to 15 minutes in each room, mopping floors, vacuuming, cleaning windows and turning mattresses. At least two to three people were assigned to each room.

Fallon Grove, 16, a student at Boonsboro High School, said she would be earning required service hours for Saturday's work. "But I also thought it would be something nice to do."

Heather Clipp, 17, also a Boonsboro High School student, said she had never done anything like this before. "But I think it will be a good experience. I'll meet a lot of people."

As he started to knock on a resident's door, Brad Watson, 17, of Hagerstown, smiled.

"I'm not a very good cleaner," he said. "My mom can tell you that. But I'm glad I'm here today. It's a good feeling."

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