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Committed to faith

Couple impress friends with their lifestyle

Couple impress friends with their lifestyle

March 23, 2007|by JULIE E. GREENE

GAPLAND - As lucky as Margaret and Bill Kellers seem to be in being furnished with materials and services for their home and lives, the couple believe it is their faith that has supported them for so many years.

After all, the couple's income - including Bill Kellers' job as postmaster relief at the St. James post office and some carpentry jobs he did occasionally - was only $5,446 in 2006 and $8,068 in 2005, according to their tax returns.

"When we needed something, we prayed and we got it," said Margaret Kellers, 59.

They have a wide circle of friends who have helped them, giving the couple items - from bedding to flooring - that they had excess of or no longer needed. The couple also share an eye for bargains and items that have been thrown out but are in decent shape.

The couple have no medical insurance, so when she got a toothache, a friend insisted on paying for the treatment.

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Dotty Schmitt, who has been friends with the Gapland couple for 33 years, said, "Obviously, we believe the Lord supplies, but for them he supplies probably a little differently. They look to the Lord. They're very outgoing, Margaret especially. When she goes to stores, no one is a stranger to Margaret.

"She wins people just by her genuine interest in them," said Schmitt, of Laytonsville, Md.

When Kathy House, the bakery manager at Weis Markets in Boonsboro, got bronchitis, Kellers brought her mints for her throat. Kellers found out House had been sick because she calls the bakery department every week to check on everybody.

"She's like a mom," House said.

When Tina Strite met her new neighbors almost three years ago, she discovered this couple she had never met before had been praying for her stepson for three years.

Turns out Margaret Kellers had met the boy's grandmother, a checkout clerk in Germantown, Md., and started praying for the boy when she learned about his medical problems.

The Kellerses live in two trailers they brought with them from a trailer park in Germantown almost three years ago. Bill Kellers, 60, put his carpentry skills to work to connect the two trailers, build a front porch and steps, push out walls and install windows.

They are caretakers for the roughly 190-acre farm in southern Washington County. The farm is owned by a Washington, D.C., family. Bill Kellers spends about 40 hours a month working on the farm, mowing the lawn, burning brush, clearing fallen trees from the driveway and patrolling for trespassing hunters or all-terrain vehicles.

Through this arrangement, the Kellerses get to live on the land, paying only $270 a month in rent.

They have a well and a septic tank.

Their regular bills are for the local phone service, electricity and heating oil, though most of their heat is provided from a stove they feed with wood Bill Kellers chops on the farm. A friend provides them with a calling card for long distance calls.

There are two televisions but no cable because they enjoy watching videos and reading.

Almost everything in their home was given to them, bought at bargain prices or found because someone put it out for the trash.

"Literally, every item in the place has a story," Bill Kellers said.

Some sunflower-themed items and a new washer were given to them from friend Danny Hughes.

Hughes, of Baltimore, said he gave the Kellerses a new washer he was storing after his mother, who has dementia, decided she didn't like it and wanted another one.

"I'm a Christian and I'm a giver," Hughes said. "Whenever I have something that I think they would like or use, I try to help them out with it."

The Kellerses have done for others as well, their friends said.

They pray for others, and they give to others what they can.

They both have served as pastors and provide counseling for some people, who might bring them food in exchange, Margaret Kellers said.

Strite said Margaret Kellers asks people questions, and she's genuinely concerned about others, an attitude Strite finds refreshing in these days, when many people ignore others.

"She's like one of those people like Aunt Bee. You just seem to have always known her," said Strite, referring to the beloved character on "The Andy Griffith Show."

When the couple went to the Philippines on a missionary trip from 1989 to 1992 they gave everything they had to whomever needed it, Margaret Kellers said.

Shortly after returning and living in Germantown, Bill Kellers went to work for a contractor renovating a five-story building in Washington. That job enabled them to save some money before he gave up the job because his wife needed help caring for her mother.

"Bill had to be there to help lift her," Margaret Kellers said.

Bill Kellers likes to joke about how they've come upon some of their belongings, such as the gold mirror in their bedroom that they found in a Dumpster. He says they are "professional trash collectors" or "professional junk collectors."

A sign in the sunflower room states, "The best things in life are not things."

"But we have gotten quite a few things," Margaret Kellers said. "They keep coming and coming."

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