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Rock the Hilltop offers fun and school supplies

July 30, 2011|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • Sparky The Fire Dog, aka Randy Bivens, high-fives Clayton Knode, 5, right, of Clear Spring Saturday during Rock The Hilltop at Hilltop Christian Fellowship in Clear Spring. R.J. Bivens, 4, of Big Pool looks on.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

CLEAR SPRING, Md. — Most of the time, Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore wears a law-enforcement uniform.

On Saturday, he donned a hairy brown bear suit.

Mullendore, taking on the persona of Smokey Bear, posed for photos and greeted visitors to Rock the Hilltop, a back-to-school event sponsored by Hilltop Christian Fellowship.

Despite the hot weather, Mullendore said he enjoyed dressing in costume for the more than 150 children who took part in the day's activities.

"It's good entertainment," he said. "Plus, I love kids."

A visit with Smokey Bear was just one of the offerings families could enjoy throughout the day. There also were games, a dunk tank, moon bounce and a wide variety of summertime foods.

But while it was a chance to bring families together in a fun setting, Rock the Hilltop provided another purpose.

"We're giving away free school supplies for kids in the area," said Denise Higgins, outreach coordinator for Hilltop Christian Fellowship. "We're trying to lend a hand to those in need. If we can help in this way, that means the parents will have more money for clothing."

Higgins said this is the second year the church has sponsored the end-of-summer vacation event.

"We're a rather new church, in existence for seven years," she said. "This is our second year here in Clear Spring. In the past, we didn't have the facilities to offer something like this. But now that we do, we want to reach out to the community."

Thanks to sponsors, Higgins said everything offered during Rock the Hilltop was free.

"We're a community church," Pastor Dennis Whitmore said. "If we can bring lots of families together, that's what we want to be all about. When we bought this facility, we thought it was a blessing. But with blessings come responsibilities. We want to open our doors to the community and make everyone feel welcome. It's a stewardship."

Event volunteer Judy Burton of Big Pool had the coolest seat in the house. Sitting inside a dunking booth, she encouraged passers-by to try their luck at dipping her into the water.

With temperatures in the 90s, Burton said she looked forward to getting dunked.

"The water feels great. It's not a bad job at all," she said. "Besides, I'm a big kid at heart."

In addition to Rock the Hilltop, Higgins said the church offers outreach programs for teenagers and senior citizens.

"We try to cover all ages groups throughout the year," she said.

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