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More than 1,300 volunteers take part in Day of Caring in Eastern Panhandle

September 10, 2013|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Some 69 Shepherdstown Elementary School fifth-graders paraded through downtown Tuesday, pushing a wheelbarrow and carrying rakes, shovels and small garden tools on their way to clean up Rumsey Monument and Cullison Park.

The students were among more than 1,300 volunteers who turned out to perform a multitude of tasks at 70 project sites in Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson counties. The effort is their bit for the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle’s annual Day of Caring.

There were skilled and unskilled volunteers, and employees from banks and businesses. There were public school and college students, members of church groups, civic organizations, and local, state and federal government agencies.

The volunteers headed for their assignments following three breakfasts, one in each county, at 7:30 a.m.

They painted inside and outside, many performed landscaping duties, some built handicapped-accessible ramps, others shampooed rugs, performed office and computer tasks, caulked a bathroom, did light plumbing, installed a ceiling fan and repaired a lawnmower.

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They fixed leaky roofs, put down floors, built a storage shed and framed a raised-bed garden, put up window blinds and washed windows.

Many of the United Way agencies that participated requested one or two tasks, while others asked for as many as their needs required.

Good Shepherd Caregivers asked for and received help on 13 separate projects for that agency’s clients, including faucet repairs, a handicapped ramp, landscaping, concrete work, a new vinyl floor, stair repairs and enlarging a driveway.

Among the Shenandoah Women’s Center’s eight requests were building a wooden toy box, a roof repair, landscaping, a new gate and painting an office.

Volunteers did jobs for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Jefferson and Berkeley counties, including painting, cleaning, landscaping and spreading gravel around a parking lot.

“The whole fifth grade class is here,” said Leslie Boyd, one of three teachers who brought the Shepherdstown Elementary School students to the parks.

“Once they’re done here you will see no trash,” she said. “It will all be put into bags — trash, compost, leaves and weeds.”

The kids were serious about their tasks. They spread mulch, raked and weeded, and when they finished, they got to use the playground they had just cleaned up.

“They learn from this experience,” Boyd said. “They learn to focus on their community, to give back and to take care of the environment.”

Fifth-grader Una Haines, 10, spent the morning picking up trash and spreading mulch along a trail.

“This is a good thing to do,” she said. “There’s a lot of trash here, and even the smallest things can hurt. A lot of people come here so it has to be kept clean.”

Daniel Rutledge, also 10, got paid for his work — sort of. He found a dime under the picnic table he was cleaning up with a hand rake.

Many of the materials used in Tuesday’s projects were donated, United Way spokeswoman Tiffany Lawrence said. About $8,000 was donated to pay for the orange T-shirts given to the volunteers.

Lawrence said she had to sort through 1,300 photographs taken of the day’s events for a presentation at the annual volunteers dinner scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Shepherdstown.

“All of the 1,300 volunteers are invited to the dinner,” Lawrence said. “Usually, about 400 show up.”

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