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At United Way event, hundreds showed they cared

October 07, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Many extra hands put a fresh coat of caring on Washington County this year.

Volunteerism was up more than 15 percent Wednesday, this year's Day of Caring, according to Jenny Fleming, the community impact director for United Way of Washington County.

About 700 people helped with fix-it-up projects throughout the county, compared to 600 last year, she said.

After gathering in the morning for breakfast at Hagerstown Community College, individuals and 33 teams scattered to 60 sites to work.

Memorial Recreation Center needed help with its kitchen. Leiters' Fine Catering of Williamsport was there.

It was time for new paint inside and outside of Girls Inc. Citi workers grabbed brushes.

The Western Maryland Hospital Center grounds were due for landscaping. Valley Mall employees got their hands dirty.

Fleming said word about Day of Caring spreads quickly; several people a day inquire about taking part.

It was the first time for Traci Carter, who works in Citi's fraud early management department. She said she wanted to help Girls Inc. in Hagerstown because it's a safe after-school place.

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Carter and co-workers washed Girls Inc. vans and covered white "No Parking" letters in the parking lot with blue paint. It was windy, but she looked at the bright side -- it helped the paint dry faster.

Leiters' Fine Catering employees cleaned and organized cupboards and a pantry at the Memorial Recreation Center in Hagerstown.

Teri Leiter said she pulled weeds and planted flowers in a woman's yard last year -- and got into poison ivy. She was glad to be inside.

Leiter and her husband, Dave, persuaded Clint Rawlings, a fellow member of the Williamsport Rotary, to join them this year.

Rawlings painted alongside Paul Britten, whose 5-year-old daughter, Faith, goes to the center.

Loretta Wright, the center's executive director, said the help on Day of Caring and by neighbors on other days is valuable.

Several volunteers spruced up the grounds of Western Maryland Hospital Center. Some were master gardeners who regularly look after the property.

James Glenn, Valley Mall's security director, and Tyler Kimbrough, a security supervisor, pulled wisteria roots from a garden bed.

Michael Priday, the center's purchasing director, said there was plenty of mulching, weeding and pulling out dead plants.

At Girls Inc., Laura Likely, who works in human resources for Citi, stretched high to roll a second coat of paint on a white wall.

She said companies might cut back on financial donations to charitable causes because of a tough economy, but employees can fill the gap by donating their time.

"Any way we can give," she said.

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