Volunteers repair countians' homes NORTH COUNTY -- Linthicum * Ferndale * Brooklyn Park * Pumphrey

THE JOY OF CHRISTMAS IN APRIL

April 26, 1993|By Kevin Harrison | Kevin Harrison,Contributing Writer

For the second consecutive year, the spirit of giving traditionally associated with Christmas came early to some Anne Arundel County residents, thanks to Saturday's celebration of Christmas In April, a nationwide volunteer effort providing home repair and renovation for low-income, elderly and disabled homeowners.

More than 650 Anne Arundel County volunteers worked on 20 homes, including that of Helen Schickton, in the 500 block of Hammonds Lane in Brooklyn Park.

Volunteers worked feverishly for eight hours, from morning to late afternoon. Years of accumulated debris had to be cleared from the basement, a shed needed to be torn down, and the walls on the first floor of Ms. Schickton's two-story house needed a fresh coat of paint.

Ms. Schickton, a frail woman of 82, has broken her back twice and cannot maintain her property as she would like to. "In the past two years, everything seemed to be falling apart, and I thank the good Lord these people came to help me," the lifelong county resident and retired clerical worker from the Department of Motor Vehicles said. "I think they're doing a good job and I appreciate it."

To many in her community, Ms. Schickton is best remembered as a youngster at her father's former nursery business, Seiferts, on Hammonds Road, a stone's throw from where she now lives.

To assist Ms. Schickton, Maryland National Bank donated $1,500. Sixteen Maryland National Employees helped out.

Carlisse Amoky, 35, an assistant manager for the Maryland National Bank West Street office in Annapolis, came from her home in Largo to join in the cleanup. "I do a lot of volunteer work, but this is the one project I get the most satisfaction out of," she said. "After participating last year, I just had to come back."

Joinette Smallwood, 27, of Severna Park, a customer service representative at the West Street office, agreed. "It's a lot of work, but it's still fun."

The folks at Mrs. Schickton's home had plenty to do. A leaky basement over the winter left a mountain of soaked cardboard boxes stacked in the middle of the basement. All the waterlogged material, plus broken furniture, a lawn mower, some tires and artificial flowers -- left over from her father's business -- had to be carted out of the basement.

Trash, including the metal shack that had been in the backyard, was thrown into a large metal bin supplied by Browning-Ferris Industries. The first one was filled within 90 minutes. Another was brought in, and by noon, even that was half filled.

Volunteers did more than haul trash. Ron Miller, 25, of Pasadena, an electrician with Catonsville Electric, helped repair electrical wiring that caused a circuit breaker to trip every time the basement lights were turned on.

Dave Moeller, 23, a construction worker, and his fiancee, Kim Marshaner, 23, were doing landscaping in the front yard.

For Mr. Moeller, in fact, Christmas In April was a family affair. He was joined by older brother Donald, 35, a Glen Burnie filling station operator, and their father, Donald Moeller Jr., 56.

Nick Mona, 41, of Annapolis, a general contractor and Christmas In April coordinator for four sites, praised the program. "It's neighbor helping neighbor with no strings attached," he said.

Mr. Mona said he was concerned, however, that not enough residents are aware of the program. "I know there are a lot of people out there who qualify and who are in need of this kind of help," he said. "We just have to get the word out . . ."

Other sites throughout the county and state were sponsored by a host of corporations, civic associations and community groups. Many of the supplies used for the work were donated by the business community or sold to Christmas In April at a substantial discount.

In a few short weeks, once the dust has settled from this year, Christmas In April will once again start accepting applications for next year's work.

Last year, 12 Anne Arundel County homes were included in the program. Although eight more were added this year, organizers would like to do more.

"If we had at least twice the homes next year, I would be happy," Mr. Mona said.

For information on Christmas In April, phone county director Brook Perkins at 268-8242.

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