Hampstead woman helps Midwest flood victims

NEIGHBORS

January 05, 1994|By PAT BRODOWSKI

It was 10 days before Christmas. What Bonni Crispin saw was not the preholiday festivities of her hometown, Hampstead. She was in the flood-ravaged Midwest. She saw mud.

"You could see the line where the water had sat in the houses for a very long time," Ms. Crispin said. "It covered the whole first floor. Silos, knocked over like tin cans, were in the middle of the fields. At one intersection, the road was closed to the right because there was no road. It was all dirt."

She went to Missouri and Illinois as part of the Carroll County relief program. The first call was Alexandria, Mo., the town adopted by Mount Airy.

"It was a ghost town," she said. "There wasn't even a dog running around. Nothing was there but mud and houses with no windows. It didn't seem like a large town, but there wasn't one house that looked salvageable."

Ms. Crispin's urge to help had begun one pleasant summer day six months before, when the flooding Mississippi was shown on national television lapping at the great arch in St. Louis. As a teen-ager, her citizenship activities in 4-H had won top national honors. She'd taught handicapped awareness to children and fire prevention as the state fire queen. She knew she could help the flood victims somehow.

She went to a Hampstead Town Council meeting, thinking the firehouse could be a collection center for flood relief.

"I said basically, I have this idea, how can you help me with it?

"Six or seven residents stood up and said, 'This is a great idea. We'll help,' " she said, amazed at the immediate support by people she didn't know. The result was Friends for Flood Relief, a committee that included Steve and Sandy Harmon, Wayne and Barbara Thomas and their daughter Christine Thomas, Myron Diehl, Mike Nelson, and Ms. Crispin's mother Fran, father Forrest and sister Jenni.

"We worked from August until November, every other day, every weekend" at two collection centers in town, she said. "When school started, the collections picked up, churches did fund-raising drives for us, and different community groups started helping out. We had a 24-foot moving van packed to the point where, when we opened the doors, stuff was falling out."

Donations from Hampstead and Carroll County were driven by Mike Huff to the Hancock County Extension Office in Carthage, Ill. The truck was met by at least 20 residents ready to unload, she said. Some families had been "adopted" by Carroll County.

"One of the adopt-a-family ladies was there unloading her boxes, 15 total. That was neat," Ms. Crispin said. "She couldn't believe that some total strangers would offer her 15 boxes of Christmas presents and everything else."

Back home, Ms. Crispin's Christmas mail included, from Hancock County, Ill., a note of thanks from the people who are still selecting from the donations collected in Hampstead.

In the spring, she said, she might try to continue the effort.

"We have about $900 collected, and Union National Bank is still accepting [cash]," Ms. Crispin said. "The county might do a furniture drive, and we were thinking of holding a dance.

"You could see the amazement that total strangers from the East had decided to help them [flood victims]. They said they felt more lucky than anything. Because, why did we choose them instead of somebody else?"

*

On June 26, artists, artisans, environmentalists and vendors of natural products and about 3,000 spectators will converge for a Wildlife Art and Nature Jamboree to be held at the Indian Steps Museum in Airville, Pa. The museum, on the banks of the Susquehanna, is about an hour's drive from Hampstead.

If you create art or crafts with a nature theme, or belong to a nature study group, you can join in the jamboree. The Conservation Society of York County and Pennsylvania Power and Light Co. are co-sponsors.

One coordinator, Jennifer Carranza, said this event combines two that usually are held at the museum.

"We have lots of artists from Maryland" among two dozen top-quality painters, photographers and sculptors who have exhibited at the annual Nature and Wildlife Art Festival, she said. They include waterfowl painters, wood-carvers, scenic photographers, and makers of wind chimes and wooden flutes.

The annual Nature Jamboree attracted about 40 exhibits by sportsmen's groups, conservationists and environmental agencies that promote the preservation of nature.

From details of past jamborees, you can imagine what the June event will include. Last year, the Lancaster Wildlife Center brought a de-scented skunk and an owl to meet children, and Pennsylvania Power and Light displayed its electric car. Captive-bred snakes were for sale, as were rain forest products, natural skin conditioners, seeds, honey, paper recycled into stationery and water-saving faucets.

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