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Residents get a clean sweep to greet spring

April 23, 2006|By DON AINES

HAGERSTOWN

Parents know children often are reluctant to clean their own rooms, but a couple dozen joined Saturday's annual Spring Fling, cleaning the rooms of residents of Potomac Towers and Walnut Towers.

Thirty-three volunteers showed up to clean windows, scrub bathtubs and do other chores for the elderly and disabled living in the Hagerstown Housing Authority complexes, many of them from St. James School.

Even those who need help can reach out to help others, Collins said. Clients of Turning Point, a psychiatric rehabilitation agency, lent a hand.

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The volunteers broke into small groups armed with glass cleaner and paper towels, cleaning 26 apartments at Potomac Towers and another 17 at Walnut Towers, said Kevin Collins, the program director for Faith In Action, a program of REACH Caregivers Inc.

"They did a beautiful job. They do every year," said Lorraine McDonald, who has lived at Walnut Towers for eight years. "They cleaned my patio door and hung some drapes for me."

"I do what I can," but Mary Curry said her rheumatoid arthritis limits what she can do around her apartment. St. James students Jun Cho, Nathan Hesse and Fatimah Jefferson were taking on a few of the tasks Curry no longer can do, such as flipping her mattress and scrubbing the bathroom tile.

"Otherwise, it wouldn't get done," Curry said as she and a pair of pet chickadees watched the students.

"Being in a wheelchair, you're only so high," said Ruth Hines, a resident for two years. She appreciated the help in cleaning parts of her small, tidy apartment she no longer can reach, "like the top of the refrigerator."

St. James sophomores James Rogers and Catherine Carpenter were applying some elbow grease to the stove and countertops of Hines' kitchenette. They later returned to the lobby to get another assignment from volunteer Katy Sweeney.

"It gives you a better perspective on life and giving back," Sweeney said of what the volunteers gain from the experience.

In many cases, residents needed only one or two small tasks performed, but Collins said they likely benefit as much from the visit as from the work being done. He said he encouraged the young volunteers to socialize with the residents.

"I'm a deacon and a disciple of Jesus Christ," said volunteer Dave Washington of New Light Metropolitan Community Church, as he cleaned the patio door of Steve Kershner's apartment. Helping the disadvantaged "is what we've been commissioned to do," he said.

High school students in Maryland are required to do 60 hours of community service to graduate, but that was not her motivation, Carpenter said.

"My family and I would do community service projects together" in her hometown in Texas, she said.

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