Woman doesn't let struggles break her Christmas spirit

December 15, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: This is the first of a 10-part series about people who make this holiday season brighter for others. The series concludes Christmas Eve.


Jayme Detwiler's sense of giving back to her community is so strong that it has continued uninterrupted, despite personal tragedy and her own struggles with life-threatening injuries.

Now 27, Detwiler's neck and back were broken last February in a car crash that claimed the life of her fiance. Off work for six months recuperating, Detwiler again is volunteering at the gift wrapping booth at Valley Mall for the American Red Cross of Washington County - that agency's single largest fundraiser each year.

"I've been involved here six years now," Detwiler said of her effort, which has grown into a family affair. "I thought it was something we could do."


A popular service for harried shoppers, sometimes there will be three or four people waiting in lines for each of the eight to 10 volunteers doing the wrapping, Detwiler said.

The hours for gift wrapping are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., according to Cindy Blackstock of the Red Cross staff. During the week before Christmas when the mall is open until 11 p.m., the wrappers will be there late, too.

Last year, $20,500 was raised - all of which stays in Washington County, Blackstock said. Valley Mall, Valley Wine & Spirits and UPS contribute the wrapping supplies for the 14th annual Caring Hands Gift Wrap this year.

Detwiler is a 1996 graduate of South Hagerstown High School. In 2000, she was in her final year at Shepherd College, now Shepherd University, when she first volunteered to gift wrap for the Red Cross.

"I don't like giving blood, so this is how I contribute," Detwiler said.

When Detwiler isn't working at the Social Security Administration in Baltimore, she also delivers Meals on Wheels.

The daughter of Dale and Carrie Detwiler, she has pulled her parents, her sister and brother and some friends into the project again this year.

"We usually sign up for one three-hour shift closest to Christmas," Detwiler said. "There is a really holiday feeling ... a feeling of being close to family."

Friday: David Wilt of Martinsburg, W.Va.

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