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Keep local charities in mind

August 03, 2008|By JONATHAN R. BURRS

This past week must have been one intended for deep thought, consideration and reflection for me concerning the many good-hearted, positive people of Hagerstown, Washington County and the Tri-State areas in general.

On July 23, I read the Bob Maginnis' column "Trying to be the 'last one in the lifeboat' isn't a good idea," where he wrote about the good- hearted people in Washington County who regularly give of themselves and their finances to support worthy causes such as the United Way campaign and the American Red Cross.

Then on July 26, I read a letter to the editor from Lee Ann Hudson, production director for the Maryland Theatre, who wrote about the many volunteers who assist in taking care of this historic community treasure.

Both articles reminded me of a recent experience I had one weekend, shortly after leaving home when the "boss" had informed me I needed to do a better job keeping one of the cars cleaned.

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As I cruised past Municipal Stadium and pulled to the stop light at Memorial Boulevard and Frederick Street, I was greeted by a group of local citizens waiving none other than - you guessed it, car wash signs.

As I pulled my car into the parking lot, I could not help but notice the delightful smells coming from the grill where a cookout had just begun. I thought to myself, this must be my lucky day, not only do I get my car washed (by someone else) but I get great smelling, tasty food, too.

OK, I know everyone is wondering what a car wash and grilling food have to do with good-hearted people in Hagerstown and surrounding areas. As it turned out, I had not stopped at just any old car wash and grill, but a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness in support of the Washington County Health Department.

Long's Automotive and several local businesses had sponsored a car wash and summer cookout to raise money and pass out screening literature for the Washington County Health Department's breast cancer awareness program.

I was so deeply touched by the local volunteers that once they were done with my car and came to collect the $5 donation, I pulled the last $20 from my pocket and insisted they keep the change. Had I had more money available, I would have gladly given them every penny!

This dreaded disease known as cancer has affected each of us directly or indirectly. Many have struggled with cancer themselves or have watched relatives, friends, co-workers, teachers, clergy and small children devastated with a variety of forms of cancer.

In my family, three aunts and one uncle have suffered and died from cancer. I have another uncle holding on to life, as I write this, after several bouts with cancer. However, there is hope and it is my belief that the efforts by volunteers such as Long's Automotive are paying dividends. According to the Cancer Trends Progress Report 2007 update by the National Cancer Institute of the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. cancer death rate stabilized from 1990 to 1993 and significantly declined from 1993 to 2003.

The 2007 report update concludes that death rates for the four most common cancers (prostate, breast, lung, and colorectal) and overall cancers combined, continue to decline.

In addition, the rate of cancer incidents has declined since the early 1990s. For additional information on cancer statistics and cancer research, please go to the National Cancer Institute's Web site at progressreport.cancer.gov/index.asp.

As a resident of Hagerstown, I am both thankful for and proud of local citizens and businesses such as Long's Automotive, who give of themselves to make life better for others.

For that, Long's Automotive gets a Jon Burrs two thumbs up. I encourage everyone to support local businesses that raise funds for good causes.

A future fundraising initiative Long's Automotive will be participating in will be raising money for a new sound system at the Maryland Theatre. Please, let us all show community camaraderie by standing together and making Hagerstown and Washington County the best they can be. Support local charities.

Jonathan R. Burrs is a Hagerstown resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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