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Dinner raises funds to repair cemetery vandalism

November 15, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

WILLIAMSPORT -- Williamsport United Methodist Church took on a diner-like atmosphere Saturday as people purchased meatloaf dinners to help raise $1,900 to repair tombstones that were overturned by vandals last month at Riverview Cemetery.

The Rev. Susan Boehl said the fundraiser originally was scheduled from 3 to 7 p.m., but the food ran out at 5:30 p.m.

"It's been wonderful," Boehl said. "People really come out for a good cause. We're just happy to be a part of it."

Boehl said she came to the church in July. It saddened her spirit, she said, to think that some people "have such little respect for the people who came before us."

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On Oct. 5, vandals pushed over several tombstones at Riverview Cemetery, causing about $22,350 in damages. Although one suspect has been interviewed and another has been identified, no charges have been filed.

Boehl said the fundraiser was a joint effort between the congregation and members of the community. All of the food was donated by anonymous sources, she said, and church members did the cooking.

In addition to meatloaf, the dinners, which cost $6, included mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots and pumpkin pie.

Mayor James G. McCleaf II said the community has several more fundraisers planned before the end of the year. A spaghetti dinner will be held Nov. 23 from 12:30 to 4 p.m. at the Williamsport Fire Hall, he said. All of the proceeds - as was the case with Saturday's fundraiser - will go toward repairing the tombstones.

"This is one of those things where everyone is in agreement," McCleaf said of the fundraisers. "Everyone wants to support what's going on ... This will take a bad thing and turn it in to something positive."

Joan Knode, a volunteer with the Riverview Cemetery Association, said that by a stroke of luck, Williamsport resident Cory Beatty did a layout of the cemetery last year as part of his Eagle Scout project that marked all of the graves by name. She said Beatty's work will make it easier to ensure that the overturned stones are placed on the proper graves because some of lettering has eroded over time.

Hagerstown resident Percy Shipley said he usually goes out to dinner at a restaurant on Saturdays, but he decided to eat at the church instead.

"It was a very good meal," he said. "It was for a good cause."

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