Couple's spirit of Christmas shines all year long

Neighbors

December 21, 1997|By Rosalie Falter | Rosalie Falter,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

AT THIS TIME OF year, you're bound to hear and read a lot about the "spirit of Christmas." If that overworked phrase is shorthand for love, sharing, giving and helping our neighbors, then Pauline and George Bottiger are a living definition.

"Throughout the area, and our community in particular, both are held in high esteem," said Mary Foster, a friend who has known the Bottigers for 10 years and nominated the couple to the Maryland Senior Citizens Hall of Fame. The Bottigers were recently chosen for this honor as "volunteers who have made an outstanding contribution to improve the lives of others."

With their long list of volunteer services, the Bottigers easily met the criteria for the award. One of their strongest commitments has been to the Meals on Wheels program. They recruit and schedule volunteers and have been known to make food deliveries to shut-ins as often as four times a week if another volunteer was unable to do it. They have been doing this for more than 20 years.

The Bottigers call and check on elderly neighbors and those who live alone and provide support, encouragement and transportation to the sick and homebound. Many birthday cards and cards of encouragement are mailed. Together, they have spent much time helping Chapter 2244 of the American Association of Retired Persons, Red Cross blood drives, soup kitchens and the North County Emergency Outreach Network.

The Bottigers have lived in Ferndale since 1958. They are members of St. John Lutheran Church in Linthicum. At church, they spend countless hours helping with many functions, including preparing meals for as many as 100 people. George is active with the men's group and helps wherever he can. Pauline assists the pastor with the weekly Bible study and teaches the class when he is unable to, work that requires quite a bit of preparation.

The two have always helped out when they saw a need. For many years, when Pauline was still working, she visited Keswick Home on her lunch hour to meet with elderly people. For a long time, she was a therapist for a handicapped child -- visiting and exercising the child's limbs to help keep them supple and healthy. George was a volunteer for the Anne Arundel Alarmers Association, helping to provide food and drink to firemen at work. He supervised the ushers at church and was responsible for counting the collections after services.

Though the Bottigers are in their 80s, their energies are unrelenting.

"My grandmother still cooks a Thanksgiving meal every Sunday for our entire family," said granddaughter Shelly Van Dyke, "She has done this even before I was born 35 years ago." Her grandparents, she said, also find time to baby-sit for their great-grandchildren several times a week.

At a recent birthday party for her grandmother, people were asked to write a note as a surprise to her, said Van Dyke, "We received numerous letters stating that my grandparents provided prayer, meals and support, and that it made a difference during a very difficult time."

Foster expressed the thoughts of many in the community when she said, "They don't like to take credit for anything they do, and they do so much."

Holiday services

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services include:

St. John Lutheran Church, 300 W. Maple Road: Christmas Eve daylight service at 11 a.m. Favorite carols will be sung, and Holy Communion will be celebrated. The family Christmas Eve service at 5 p.m. is especially suited for children. Christmas Eve worship services are at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. with Holy Communion, traditional carols and Bible readings. Christmas Eve festival service is at 11 p.m. with Communion, carols, special musical presentations and candlelight.

Linthicum Heights United Methodist Church, 200 School Lane: Christmas Eve family service will take place at 7 p.m., carols at 10: 30 p.m. and candlelight service at 11 p.m.

St. Philip Neri Roman Catholic Church, 6401 Orchard Road: Christmas Eve Masses at 5 p.m., 7 p.m and midnight. The choir carol service begins at 11: 30 p.m. Christmas Day Masses are at 8 a.m., 9: 30 a.m. (children's choir), 11 a.m. and 12: 30 p.m.

Peace Lutheran Church, 416 Wellham Ave.: Christmas Eve services at 5: 30 p.m. especially for young children. Service with guitar, key and string bass music at 7: 30 p.m. Organ music at the 11 p.m. service.

St. Christopher's Church, 118 Marydell Road: Christmas Eve, 7: 30 p.m. family service followed by a Christmas party at 8: 30 p.m.; carols at 9: 30 p.m.; festival Eucharist at 10 p.m. followed by midnight party at 11: 30 p.m.;Christmas Day Eucharist at 10 a.m.

Ferndale United Methodist Church, 117 Ferndale Road: Christmas Eve children's service at 6: 30 p.m. Traditional Communion and candlelight services at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Fellowship Baptist Church of Ferndale, 1017 Sundown Road: Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m.

Brooklyn Heights United Methodist Church, 110 Townsend Ave.: Christmas Eve candlelight and Communion services at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Friendship Church of the Brethren, 217 Mansion Road: Christmas Eve candlelight service at 11 p.m. Service will focus on a parable written by parishioner Mary Campbell. The choir will sing throughout the narration.

Pub Date: 12/21/97

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