Sunday, October 29, 2000

Good deeds any time

Volunteers help center

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        INDIAN HILL — Saturday was “Make a Difference Day,” but some teen-agers who participated said they know they can make a difference any day, just by making it a priority.

        “People think they're too busy to volunteer, but they can if they make the time for it,” said Beth Hurst, a 16-year-old Sycamore High School junior who helped with the Fall Festival. That event, a community Halloween party, drew more than 200 people Saturday to the Stepping Stones Center, a United Way agency dedicated to assisting people with disabilities.

        As she finished painting a dog on the face of a little girl in a white princess costume, Beth said, “It really is rewarding to see how all of our hard work is appreciated.”

        Beth was part of the 10th annual “Make a Difference Day,” a national day of community service sponsored by USA Weekend magazine in partnership with the Points of Light Foundation. Last year, 2 million volunteers helped an estimated 22 million people nationwide; this year, Ohio had more projects registered than any other state: 385. Kentucky had 55 projects and Indiana had 87.

        Beth and schoolmate Courtney McDowell, 16, said they could have gone out with friends, but chose to help at a face-painting station inside the center's gymnasium.

        Holding their parents' hands, children dressed as Superman and Pokemon characters filed past, along with adults costumed as clowns or characters from the Harry Potter books.

        A week ago, both teens were among about 40 Sycamore students who helped spruce up the center's grounds in preparation for the festival.

        “They were only here about four hours but they did so much. They got mums and mulch donated, they stuffed pumpkin leaf bags, they helped trim tree limbs so that families would be able to walk safely through our "Not-So- Haunted-Trail,'” said Christina Hornschemeier, 22, the center's volunteer coordinator.

        “Volunteers like them are vital to the operation of our agency. We have a couple thousand who help us each year.”

        Dozens of volunteers assisted with the festival, including a corps of Procter & Gamble employees, Ms. Hornschemeier said.

        Courtney and Beth said they plan to return several times throughout the school year to volunteer again. Their school has “adopted” the center, Ms. Hornschemeier said.


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