- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
For some, Christmas in April comes more than once a year.
As the holiday season approaches, some in the area have found themselves the recipients of early presents of necessary repairs done to their homes, courtesy of a partnership between Lowe’s in La Plata and Christmas in April.
Although the group’s first project was postponed by the arrival of Superstorm Sandy last month, around 15 people worked last week to help make a Waldorf home more accessible for a woman who uses a wheelchair.
“The work we did was indoors, so we weren’t affected by the inclement weather that day,” Christmas in April Treasurer Sandie Branan said of the Nov. 13 project. “We were able to get a lot done.”
Branan said the group worked from 9 a.m. into the early afternoon and, during that time, was able to install a washer and dryer, placed on pedestals to allow for easy access for the homeowner, and modified cabinets. Later, the group will angle the stove cooktop and countertops.
The homeowner, Betty Thompson, lives with her son Shawn, who also has a disability.
The project was funded by $8,000 donated by Lowe’s to local affiliates of national nonprofit organization Rebuilding Together, which Lowe’s is partnered with.
According to a company press release, the money was donated as a way to encourage energy-efficient building projects and aid disadvantaged people through the coming winter months. At the Thompson home, Branan said, La Plata Lowe’s employees installed the new appliances and helped in other ways.
Lowe’s employee Cheri Martin, who has worked with Christmas in April in the past, said the store’s decision to get involved represents the culture of giving back that the brand promotes.
“There’s a theory that the big-box stores in communities often don’t give back, and just take jobs and hurt the community,” Martin said.
“It’s more a matter of choosing to get involved, and Lowe’s chooses to do that. We choose to give back. It’s something Lowe’s does as a corporate entity, and my manager is just as interested in staying involved in the community.”
For the modification of the cabinets and countertops in the home, Waldorf-based home remodeling company S.D. Lohr assisted.
Owner Tina Lohr said she and the company have assisted with Christmas in April projects in the past, particularly where more complex carpentry issues are concerned. Lohr also sits on the Christmas in April board of directors.
“Sandie had asked me for help on how to make certain changes to the property, and so I went with her to verify some of the work that needed to be done,” Lohr said. “Each project is different in scope, so it helps to know what to expect beforehand.”
Through professional connections, Lohr also was able to help enlist the aid of Potter Heating and Electric in Waldorf, which assisted with lowering the oven for Thompson’s convenience. With each project, Lohr said, she sees a unique opportunity to give back.
“It’s a way that my family ... serves our community by giving back to it,” Lohr said. “It’s helped with my leadership training, and it’s a way to practice our trade, too.”
For Betty Thompson, the repairs made to her home are truly priceless. After Thompson’s husband died in 2008, she said, it seemed like every appliance malfunctioned at once. The washer and dryer that were installed last week replaced the original appliances in the home.
“Saturday night, my son and I had a laundry party because we were so excited to be able to wash and dry our clothes in machines again,” Thompson said. “They have been so wonderful to us. They cleaned our house inside and out. I never knew what the Holy Spirit felt like, but I’ll tell you, that had to be it. I’ve never known a group of people who had so much to give, and they’re so gracious. They’re both wonderful groups.”