Hampstead youths don't hesitate to help after tornado damage


July 24, 1996|By Pat Brodowski | Pat Brodowski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN FTC

ON SUNDAY, eight Hampstead youths put aside summer fun to help clean up the Gamber neighborhood where a tornado touched down Friday afternoon.

They were members of the Youth Community Service group of The Fields Homeowners Association. Daniel Baumiller, Shawn Frank, Scott and Kevin Hammonds, Ryan Kraushofer, Eddie Mercer, Tom Piet and John Pollock, all led by adult Mary Landon, turned out to work. Ryan's mother, Marie Kraushofer, pitched in, too.

The kids, ages 11 to 14, usually work in or near The Fields development to acquire community service hours for school.

"When I saw that devastation on television Friday night, my first thought was, 'How can we help?' " said Landon.

One day later, she had gained permission from the Red Cross to lead a cleanup crew. The crew arrived in the Gamber neighborhood to find about 10 Boy Scouts from Troop 381 of Westminster and 20 from Troop 395 of Finksburg already at work.

Helping mattered more to the boys than the benefit of recording service hours. In fact, Kevin Hammonds, 10 and too young to record community service hours, wanted desperately to join in the cleanup with his brother, Scott.

"You see this on TV, but when you get there. " said Scott Hammonds.

" there's a lot more [destruction] than I thought," said Kevin Hammonds, completing his brother's sentence.

They had found nails driven into trees, a gutter wrapped around a tree, 2-by-4 lumber stuck into the ground. So many tufts of insulation littered the ground that "it looked like flowers," said Eddie.

"One garage had been lifted from the ground, and the car was still sitting there," said Kevin.

"The whole second floor of a house was gone except the bathroom and door frames," said Shawn. "And we found someone's mailbox. It still had his BG&E bill in it."

Working for more than three hours, the group cleared about 2 acres, including a storm water ravine congested with lumber, shingles, tufts of insulation and personal items.

"I learned that tornadoes don't go in straight lines. On one side of the street, the houses were ripped at the edges. Some houses, nothing was left. Even steel was ripped," Scott said.

The group dragged an estimated four trash bins of debris, including a portion of a rooftop, to a collection site. Personal items were separated for identification. One homeowner discovered a missing shoe and a baseball cap that had been found about a mile from her house.

"Doing this, you feel like the whole community is getting together," Shawn said. "We were all volunteers who pitched in."

Students who live in The Fields and want to join the service group may call Landon at 239-1977.

Millers woman wins award

It was a wonderful surprise for Millers native Kimberly Dawn Blaylock to receive the Miss Amity trophy at the Miss Maryland USA 1996 pageant Sunday.

The 66 contestants, including two others from Carroll County, voted Blaylock the sweetest and kindest, the one they would choose as a lifelong friend, said her mother, Lillian Blaylock.

"I dropped my jaw; I had goose bumps all over," Kimberly said. "I was so honored the girls recognized me."

She remembers how, as a little girl, she watched the Miss Maryland pageant on television. Making the leap to become a contestant was spur-of-the-moment, prompted by the face that, at age 25, she'll be too old to enter next year.

"I got enough courage to do it. I didn't want to regret not doing something I've always dreamed of," Blaylock said. "And my family is 150 percent behind me. The closeness of one's family, there's nothing like it."

In about two months, she received the sponsorship of 24 merchants in Hampstead and Westminster, which helped her raise the $600 needed to enter.

"Being in the pageant was a fun experience, because you meet new people and have the opportunity to represent our state," she said.

Anyone who remembers Blaylock on stage at North Carroll High School (she graduated in 1988) will remember her speaking ability when she played Myrtle May Simmons in "Harvey" and had a leading role in "Romeo and Juliet."

She lives in Hampstead, works in public relations and expects to receive a bachelor's degree next year.

"I accomplished what I wanted to do. I wasn't looking to win, but to make it into the semifinals," she said. "For being in one pageant, and being in the finals, is pretty good. I surprised myself."

"She's the type of child who set high goals," said her mother. "She is our inspiration. Everything she does is what I would have liked to do in my lifetime."

Pub Date: 7/24/96

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