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City employees pitch in for Day of Caring

October 12, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A feared drop in the number of employees of the City of Hagerstown volunteering on the United Way of Washington County's Day of Caring failed to materialize Wednesday to the relief of the charity's organizers.

At a Hagerstown City Council meeting last week, some council members voiced concern that city employees would be spending too much time volunteering for the annual charity event while they were "on the clock."

"We didn't lose ANY city team members," said Jenny Fleming, marketing and campaign coordinator for United Way.

Bruce Zimmerman, Hagerstown city administrator and himself a volunteer Wednesday, said at least five community projects were being handled by city employees.

"We have both salaried and nonsalaried workers here ... after the uproar," he said.

At a meeting last week, some Hagerstown City Council members objected to city employees getting paid during a workday to do a volunteer activity. The city's United Way committee was directed to pare its volunteer list, which had about 40 names, to salaried employees only, rather than hourly employees.

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However, on Wednesday, Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said the consensus from that meeting was that both salaried and nonsalaried workers could participate in the Day of Caring.

Five teams totaling 42 city employees were sent out Wednesday morning after the kickoff breakfast at Bethel Assembly of God Church on Wilson Boulevard.

In all, close to 400 volunteers from area businesses and agencies were involved in Day of Caring, United Way Executive Director Dale Bannon said.

Two new teams were welcomed - Kohl's Department Store and Hagerstown Magazine.

Jo Ellen Knight and Paul Strausner of Volvo Powertrain North America, formerly Mack Trucks, spent their morning painting a garden shed belonging to a Salem Avenue resident.

"This is my second year doing a project for the Commission on Aging," Knight said. A United Way agency, the commission submitted names of residents who need repairs, but couldn't afford to have them done.

Strausner, a Volvo retiree, keeps on volunteering for United Way because he likes to help others. He scraped the shed and cleared away brush so Knight could wield her paint brush.

At the Mason-Dixon Boy Scout Council on Crestwood Drive, Jerry Nave of the Washington County Highway Department raked and mulched around the building as Jessica Spring of the Washington County Engineering Department hauled brush away.

"This is my first year," Spring said. "I put my name in and got lucky with an outdoor job assignment."

Nave is also a first-timer, having heard of Day of Caring from a friend.

"I love doing community work," Nave said. "I also go on mission trips with my church."

So far, 43 percent of the 2006 campaign goal of $1.75 million has been pledged, Bannon said.

Staff writer Andrew Schotz contributed to this story.

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