Service work in Franklin County is 'better than the beach'

Chambersburg Project is a weeklong camp for volunteers who help residents in need

July 13, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Volunteer crew leader Adam Shank helps Alexis Spangler guide the drill to secure new decking to the front porch of the Worthy residence in Waynesboro, Pa., on Wednesday morning as part of the Chambersburg Project.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — On Joey Chukla's 15th birthday Wednesday, he thought briefly of air conditioning and television, but instead worked up a sweat painting and doing yardwork for a woman who was a stranger two days earlier.

In the process, the Hagerstown boy made new friends with other members of his Chambersburg Project crew. He's one of 178 youths spending the week in service to residents in Franklin County, Pa.

In its 14th year, the Chambersburg Project is a weeklong interdenominational youth camp. About 100 volunteer adults are leading crews, delivering supplies, making food and chaperoning children ages 12 to 18 who are sleeping at Chambersburg Area Middle School North.

The crews are doing roofing, carpentry, painting and yardwork.

"Fifty percent of the kids are new," organizer Brandon Barnhart said.

"We have completed 36 jobs," organizer Chad Yoder said Wednesday afternoon.

"We had close to 80 homeowners apply for work," organizer Haven Drooger said.

The Chambersburg Project receives referrals through the Franklin County Area Agency on Aging, senior centers and word of mouth. Drooger said clients classify as low income, elderly or disabled.

Barnhart said this year's youths are particularly gracious when serving. He said they're willing and not complaining as they work in the heat in several Franklin County communities, including Spring Run, Upper Strasburg, Mercersburg, Upton, Quincy, Waynesboro and Greencastle.

"The response has been really genuine," Barnhart said.

"It's better than the beach.' That has been a slogan for the teens themselves," organizer Chris Bumbaugh said.

Attaboy of Indiana is providing music, and E.J. Swanson of Detroit is serving as a featured speaker throughout the week.

"Two hundred teenagers giving up a week of summer — that's huge. ... Teenagers have a lot to offer, and this is a cause-driven generation," Swanson said.

Krista Wenger, 19, of Fayetteville, Pa., has been involved with the Chambersburg Project for seven years and is serving as an assistant crew leader.

"I think what they're doing is just such a good thing," Wenger said.

Anna Bunting, 15, of Chambersburg, volunteered for the service week for the first time.

"I wasn't prepared for how bad the house would be. I didn't know people lived like that and couldn't get the help they need," she said.

The crews are sharing laughs, which makes the work easier, said Jared Weisbrod, 14, of Waynesboro, Pa.

"We have a good crew. It takes away from the work and makes it fun," said Megan Rock, 15, of Mont Alto, Pa.

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