- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Early on Saturday morning, a caravan of trucks and work vans lined up outside of a 94-year-old woman’s Bryantown home with volunteers ready to fix up a house for the homeowner who was unable to do it herself.
This was the scene at several homes around the county as volunteers with Christmas in April spent the day helping to keep elderly and disabled community members warm, safe and dry.
Christmas in April of Charles County is a volunteer organization started in 1990 that, in partnership with the community, rehabilitates houses of low-income, elderly and disabled homeowners.
Several members of the Southern Maryland Dirt Riders volunteered at the Bryantown home. The main goal was to replace Gladys Hungerford’s roof, which leaked significantly during storms.
Hungerford’s grandson, Gerard Blandford, who also lives at the residence, said what Christmas in April was doing to help his grandmother was really good.
Hungerford seemed unaware of the noises coming from the roof as she sat in her small kitchen finishing her breakfast.
Blandford said the work volunteers did would help Hungerford be more comfortable in the home she spent most of her life in.
While Corley Roofing & Sheet Metal Co. of Temple Hills was busy on the roof, team leader Chip Jowett and his group of volunteers were busy fixing up the garden and replacing windows.
Jowett said the Southern Maryland Dirt Riders have volunteered with Christmas in April for many years as a way to give back to the community.
Member Jerome Jameson said he has been volunteering with the organization for about 12 years and does so simply because he likes helping others. Jameson said he often returns to homes of volunteer projects to help out.
People returning to homes and helping is not uncommon for Christmas in April volunteers.
Nancy Eichelberger, a member of New Life Church in La Plata, said Christmas in April is all about making connections and keeping those connections.
Eichelberger was among many volunteers Saturday at Harold Thomas’ house in Marbury.
Thomas was on the list for new siding, but when house captain Dee Stockman arrived at the home in the days prior to the project starting, she saw that Thomas already had his siding replaced in the two years since he was first put on the list. So the team focused Saturday on sprucing up the yard, including a memorial Thomas made for his late wife, fixing up the screened porch, replacing a kitchen floor and adding a new range hood for the oven.
Stockman said when the team arrived Saturday they discovered that Thomas and family members already had pulled up the kitchen floor in preparation, which she said saved the team a lot of time.
Thomas said he wasn’t able to do much but wanted to help out with the project.
Stockman said she was thrilled to have so much assistance from Thomas and his family.
Thomas said he could not explain the feelings he had for the community coming out to help make repairs to his home.
“God is so good,” he said.
Thomas said he does a lot of charity work himself and accepted that he, too, was in need of a little help. Seeing that help Saturday was great, he said.
“Everyone coming out hand-in-hand ... it’s beautiful,” he said.
Volunteers from New Life and Pisgah United Methodist Church — 35 volunteers total — helped out at the Marbury home.
Volunteers with the organization spread out among nearly 20 homes including group homes. This year, the Charles County Fairgrounds, home to many community events including a wrap-up party for Christmas in April, got a makeover from students in the AVID program at Henry E. Lackey High School. About 25 students, teachers and parents painted aging barns and did yard work to the grounds.
The group of students presented Christmas in April organizers with a check for $730 that AVID members raised for the charity.