Goodwill Gift Results In Spring Holiday

Christmas In April Elves Repair Homes For The Needy

April 27, 1997|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

Christmas came early yesterday -- in April -- for a Baltimore Highlands couple who got a free wheelchair ramp through a fix-up program that matches volunteers with needy families.

"I wanted to cry," said Bonnie Hubbard, 61, who uses a walker or wheelchair to get in and out of the small gray house in the 3000 block of Georgia Ave. in which she has lived in for 41 years. "It's hard to believe so many people still care."

The Hubbards were among about 70 homeowners in Baltimore Highlands and the Harwood community in Baltimore who got new porches, paint jobs and other home improvements through a 25-year-old national nonprofit program called Christmas in April.

Operating on the last Saturday in April in 220 cities in 50 states, the program finds corporate sponsors and employees who donate a day of labor to needy families identified by local community groups.

About a dozen Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. employees worked at the Hubbard home, putting in eight hours of volunteer labor and about $1,000 worth of materials donated by the utility to provide not only the ramp but also new eaves and downspouts, and to replace rotting wood in the front wall.

The couple fell on hard times after Mrs. Hubbard was hospitalized for 12 days in 1990 with a peptic ulcer. They were left without enough money to maintain their home.

Alton Hubbard, 59, built three wooden wheelchair ramps, but they rotted. Then he made a cement ramp, but its incline was too steep, and Mrs. Hubbard was afraid to use it.

Their front storm door had been kept in place for years "with more duct tape than I can count," Mrs. Hubbard said.

That was until yesterday, when workers including Tim Steg, a control-room operator at BGE's Crane power-generating plant, spent the day sawing, nailing and securing the wheelchair ramp at the back door while others worked on the door and drains.

"It's nice to give something back to the community," Steg said.

The Hubbards expressed their gratitude in a letter to the team: "We shall forever remember this day, and cherish all the things you've done for us and our home!" they wrote. "Love and prayers, Alton & Bonnie."

Pub Date: 4/27/97

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