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Pa. volunteers deliver on Christmas

December 25, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Jean Wilmot had no idea what to expect when she and her husband, Tim, knocked on that first home on Christmas day.

In fading marker the word "Carl" scrawled across the storm door frame, so she said she knew they had the right place.

"What if he is not home?" she asked her husband after the first two knocks went unanswered.

The thought had not crossed her mind when she, her husband and three children stood with nearly 100 volunteers at the Chambersburg Salvation Army, waiting to be handed a list of people they would deliver hot meals, gifts and poinsettias to on Christmas.

"We are delivering to people whose only Christmas is us. Nobody else, this is it," said organizer Lynne Newman. "These people don't get anything, they are just forgotten."

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Richard Carl had just finished breakfast and was talking to a friend on the phone when the Wilmots came to his door bearing another hot meal, a gift, a flower and a stuffed bunny.

"This has been a pretty good Christmas, he said. "My caregiver made me a good breakfast and now here is lunch."

Carl has been on his own for years, but a recent surgery made his mobility even more difficult, he said.

Taking a moment to introduce everyone to his best friend and beloved bearded dragon, Buddy, he explained much of what he had gone through the past few years.

"I have been through thick and thin, but it's the good Lord who's kept me going," he said.

Many, like Carl were very grateful for not only the food, but the company, Tim Wilmot said.

One woman told the Wilmots she had not had a visitor in many weeks.

"There is no Christmas spirit in me anymore," she said as she opened her gift from the Salvation Army.

Newman encouraged volunteers to take time and visit with the people, to listen to their stories and engage in conversation.

"I want to make this as much like a Christmas celebration as possible," she said.

Gordy Schlotter of Chambersburg has delivered meals with his son, Ben, for a number of years and said he has many fond memories of spending the holiday serving the community.

Volunteering might mean less time with his family, but Schlotter said he could not think of anything else to do that would be more indicative of the holiday.

"We tend to be very tied up in our own families on Christmas, but I think it is so important to give of one's self," he said.

More than 150 people shared Schlotter's sentiment as they spent the holiday wrapping gifts delivering and serving meals at the Salvation Army.

"I believe in helping others. I believe there is more to life than just doing stuff for yourself," Newman said. "I was raised by parents who volunteered, so I guess I learned from them."

Newman estimated that the Salvation Army delivered 150 meals and served another 400 meals during its open lunch on Christmas Day.

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