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Acts of caring abound

September 15, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
  • Volunteers John Lilga, left, of Sharpsburg, and John Maley of Martinsburg, W.Va., build a handicapped- accessible ramp Tuesday at the new office of Good Shepherd Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers at 7311 Martinsburg Pike in Shepherdstown, W.Va. The men were taking part in the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle's Day of Caring.
Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Well more than 1,000 volunteers tackled cleaning, painting, landscaping and an array of other community service projects Tuesday as part of the 16th United Way Day of Caring in the Eastern Panhandle.

Trina Bartlett, a leading coordinator for the outreach event, said more than 100 projects at 50 sites were targeted and few, if any, required her to "troubleshoot."

"Everything has gone incredibly well," Bartlett said at about 3 p.m.

Nearly 6,000 pounds of food was collected for food banks in Berkeley and Jefferson counties as part of the event's "mega" food drive, Bartlett said.

While weather conditions proved ideal for outdoor projects, the severe drought that has struck the region delayed plans to do landscaping work at the Shepherdstown (W.Va.) Day Care.

With that project on hold, Diane Cushing, a member of the Potomac-Mecklenburg Garden Club, shifted her attention to maintenance of existing landscaping outside the new Shepherdstown location of Good Shepherd Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers at 7811 Martinsburg Pike.

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"Now that they've moved, we're going to continue (the gardening work) down here," Cushing said.

The garden club previously maintained a garden in front of the former location.

Good Shepherd's move from 101 Princess St. actually began Thursday and Executive Director Paula A. Marrone-Reese said she hoped to have the new office up and running by the end of the week.

Members of the men's basketball team at Shepherd University were among 25 to 30 volunteers who helped move furniture and build two access ramps for the disabled at the new location, while others cleaned up the old office.

"They lift really good. I can't say a word," Marrone-Reese said of the college students' help.

The new location offers more parking and provides more space for staff and volunteers, who provide care to about 400 people in Jefferson County, Marrone-Reese said.

At the old location, "you had to go through my office to go to the restroom," Marrone-Reese said.

The 20-year-old organization decided to purchase the property because it includes an apartment that Marrone-Reese said will generate enough revenue to substantially offset mortgage payments and reduce costs by $400 to $500 a month.

Gary Tucker, the project leader for the organization's move, said the community support, particularly a donation by BB&T to purchase building materials for the access ramps, was greatly appreciated.

"We're pretty good at asking for help," said Tucker, who is a member of the organization's board of directors.

"This was one of our big goals," Tucker said of the organization's five-year strategic plan. "And we made it this year."

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