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Day of Caring volunteers tackle 100+ projects

Weather smiles on efforts in Eastern Panhandle

Weather smiles on efforts in Eastern Panhandle

September 15, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- More than 1,000 volunteers, including a couple celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary, tackled more than 100 community service projects for 31 agencies Tuesday as part of the 15th United Way Day of Caring in the Eastern Panhandle.

"We couldn't have asked for better weather," said Jan Callen, executive director of United Way of the Eastern Panhandle.

In between a kickoff breakfast sponsored by West Virginia University Hospitals-East at War Memorial Park in Martinsburg and dinner provided by the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Shepherdstown, W.Va., volunteers tackled landscaping, painting, roof repair and a host of other needs. Charles Town Races & Slots paid for volunteers' blue T-shirts, Callen said.

About 3,500 pounds of food collected during the Day of Caring's "mega" food drive benefited pantries at Congregational Cooperative Action Project (CCAP)/Loaves & Fishes in Martinsburg and Jefferson County Community Ministries in Charles Town, W.Va., Callen said.

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"That's a record," he said.

Volunteers Ken and Ruth Biers, who helped paint an arena for Horses with Hearts near Poorhouse Farm Park in Martinsburg, were recognized at the dinner for giving back on their wedding anniversary. The couple indicated they would be back next year for their 46th anniversary, Callen said.

A decision to delay the event to the third week of September allowed area schoolteachers and students to take part in the day of service, Callen said.

Washington High School's football team mulched and landscaped at Jefferson Memorial Park in Charles Town; art students at Martinsburg High School made a scarecrow for United Way's participation in the annual Main Street Martinsburg light pole-decorating event; and the men's and women's basketball teams at Shepherd University also volunteered, Callen said.

Todd Johnson was among eight volunteers who helped The Arts Centre in Martinsburg with a number of projects, which included sealing the wheelchair-accessible entrance, general cleaning, and electrical and plumbing improvements.

Johnson, of Martinsburg, who was painting the railing of the center's wheelchair-accessible entrance Tuesday afternoon, said he wanted to give back to his community.

"I told them to put me wherever I was needed," he said.

The ramped entrance was a Day of Caring project two years ago, according to Operations and Program Director Justis Saradji. He said LDH Electronics and A-1 Plumbing repaired lighting and installed a basin-style tub this year.

The grounds of the center, which is in the historic federal courthouse and former post office building at West King Street and Maple Avenue, also were cleaned, weeded and trimmed, and the first floor of the building was cleaned.

The cleaning was especially welcomed after the center's annual summer workshop for more than 100 children, which "kind of put a beating on it," Saradji said, smiling.

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