Jo Ann Rankin is a woman who heeds that tug on her heart.
A couple years ago, when her husband, William Rankin, closed his golf cart shop on National Pike, Jo Ann felt inspired to convert the building into a flea market.
William Rankin was apprehensive, he said, but Jo Ann made a go of it.
Right off the bat, having the market wasn’t enough. Jo Ann, who William said has “a heart for community service,” began hosting fundraisers at the shop to benefit various organizations. Events such as car shows have raised money for the American Red Cross and Shriners Hospitals for Children, and an August auction will benefit Appalachian Ministries.
On Saturday, she hosted a fundraiser for another group that is close to her heart, the Wounded Warrior Project.
“I’ve lost two brothers who served in the military,” Jo Ann Rankin said. “One was a POW in the Korean War when I was a baby. I lost another after he returned from Vietnam.”
The latter experienced the horrors common to many Vietnam veterans and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I’m very devoted to our military. I want to help them,” Jo Ann Rankin said.
The Rankins, who lived for many years in Hagerstown before a recent move to Falling Waters, W.Va., organized attractions including a DJ, chicken barbecue and fresh-baked pretzel vendors, children’s games and a military vehicle display. Area businesses donated raffle prizes from meat to rounds of golf. Members from the Washington County Board of Elections conducted voter registration.
The Rankins expected at least 500 people to attend the event and anticipated raising about $1,000.
The Marine Corps League Antietam Detachment honor guard opened the event. Vendor Alice Rose sang “God Bless America,” and everyone observed a moment of silence.
Many attendees took advantage of an outdoor overhead sprinkler hose, standing under it to cool down from the excessive summer heat.
Chuck Duhn, 42, of Clear Spring, who performed with the honor guard, never had been to the flea market before. Though the high temperatures had him “completely soaked” in sweat, he said, Duhn cleaned up at home, then returned with his wife and three children out of respect for the Rankins’ efforts. Duhn served in the Persian Gulf and in Iraq.
“I think it’s awesome that they are doing this. It’s always the common man who wants to support the people who are out there in our communities,” Duhn said. “As a Marine, the Wounded Warrior Project means a lot to me. The Wounded Warriors are the ones who gave everything for our country. Any small thing I can do to support this, I will do.”
John DePasquale of Keedysville displayed a Desert Storm-era M1010 ambulance. Having served in the U.S. Army in medical logistics, he is an ardent supporter of the Wounded Warrior Project.
“Because of improvements in body armor and immediate trauma care, military personnel are surviving serious and massive wounds,” he said. “We are seeing a lot more people coming home missing limbs.”
The military has made significant advancements in the quality of prosthetics and in rehabilitation for wounded veterans, DePasquale said. He hoped Saturday’s event would be a step toward increased awareness of the military and appreciation for what it does.