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Day of Caring draws 1,000 volunteers to 63 Eastern Panhandle sites

September 10, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION and MATTHEW UMSTEAD

EASTERN PANHANDLE, W.Va. - About 1,000 volunteers pitched in Tuesday at about 63 work sites across the Eastern Panhandle as part of Day of Caring, making it one of the larger installments of the annual event, a spokeswoman said.

During Day of Caring, sponsored by the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle, volunteers do cleanup, repair and various other work at individual homes where low-income or Hospice patients may live, according to organizers.

They also work at organizations such as arts centers, animal shelters and parks, organizers said.

"There are really many, many needs out there," said Teresa McCabe, public relations coordinator for the event.

McCabe said one reason she thinks Day of Caring is growing is because word is spreading about the event.

Area businesses often donate money to buy materials for the projects and employers let their workers take a break from their regular jobs to do the work, McCabe said.

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Volunteers in Berkeley and Jefferson counties started their day with a breakfast at War Memorial Park in Martinsburg, W.Va., organizers said. In Morgan County, volunteers were treated to breakfast at Berkeley Springs (W.Va.) State Park.

Some of the groups that benefited in Morgan County included the Morgan Arts Council, Starting Points, Morgan County/WVU Extension Service office and the Humane Society of Morgan County.

At the Boys & Girls Club in Martinsburg, W.Va., unit director Stacie Rohn said she had plenty of volunteers for a number of maintenance and cleaning projects.

"A lot things that happen today couldn't happen through the year," Rohn said as floors were scrubbed and waxed and the facility's parking lot was leveled with five loads of gravel donated by ESSROC's Capitol Cement Corp. plant just south of Martinsburg.

The task of spreading the gravel was made easier through the donation of a small dozer for the project from Tri-County Rental, a welcome boost as a steady rain soaked volunteers who were leveling the new surface manually.

"The enthusiasm doesn't wane with the rain," said Trina Bartlett of the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle.

Bartlett was coordinating the volunteer effort and helping get more than 1,000 people in the tri-county area who donated their time and labor to various projects after a kick-off breakfast early Tuesday at War Memorial Park provided by West Virginia University Hospitals-East.

"Last year it poured," Bartlett recalled.

Volunteers Jennifer Stanley and Matt Eddinger were tasked with cleaning, stripping and then waxing the game room floor of the club.

Stanley, who works in marketing for CoxHollidaPrice LLP said she was receiving "on-the-job training" Tuesday for the job.

"Your just in time to see a strip," Stanley joked.

Upstairs in the gymnasium, Martinsburg High School art students put together a collage of photographs for a "memory wall" project to recognize what Rohn described as "some of the good stuff" that has happened at the club over the years.

Sixteen-year-old Eric Mathias was thinking about his father's coaching days at the club when he came upon a photograph of Steve Mathias and some of youngsters who played for him.

"I took a picture of the picture," Mathias said of the photograph, which was part of the collage to be framed and mounted on a stairwell wall leading to the gym.

"He's famous."

Mathias said his visit stirred not too pleasant memories of running the club's steps when he messed up during Martinsburg South Middle School basketball practices held there when he was in the eighth grade. The school's gymnasium was part of a renovation project and unavailable at the time.

Art teacher Karen Barrett said her students for at least eight years have taken part in Day of Caring projects, which she said gives young people an opportunity to do something that hopefully will last.

"A lot of them have never been in the Boys & Girls Club," but recognized Martinsburg High students in some of the club's photographs, Barrett said.

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