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Monday, November 17, 2008
Herald County Edition | | By Lisa Tome
Christmas in April

The season hasn't arrived yet, but some locals are gearing up to provide holiday gifts next spring. Christmas in April Cecil County will be held on April 25, 2009.

Since it started in the county in 1994, more than 200 homeowners in need have received assistance. Christmas in April is an annual one-day project to repair the homes of those, who due to age, disability, and/or financial hardship, cannot do the work themselves.

The goal of Christmas in April, which is the largest home rehabilitation organization in America and is all volunteer, is to help the elderly, disabled, and those in need with one day home rehabilitation projects. Past projects have included building handicapped ramps, roofing work, plumbing projects, repairing doors and windows, painting and more. The work is done at no financial cost to the homeowner. Structural repairs cannot be made and projects that take longer than one day will not be accepted. The home must be owned by the applicant. Rental homes are not accepted and the homeowner must be a person in need, elderly (age 62 or above), or disabled.

Volunteers are needed to help with the projects. There are volunteer opportunities for tradespeople, groups, organizations, individuals, and companies. Those under age 14 may not work at home sites. Those under age 18 must have a signed waiver from a parent or guardian prior to participating. Service learning credit is available. Skilled and unskilled volunteers give six to eight hours of service to help with repairs. For volunteers, the day generally runs from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Sponsors are also needed for the projects.

Applications for those in need are available from all branches of Cecil's public libraries, the Department of Social Services, Senior Services and Community Transit, Chesapeake Care Resources, or by calling (443) 907-5289. The application deadline is December 31, 2008. The selection process will be completed in January. Confidentiality is assured for all applicants. The home to be repaired must be owned and occupied by the homeowner. The homeowner must be handicapped, elderly, or disabled.

Anyone who wants to apply for Christmas in April orwants to volunteer or sponsor a project should contact Bunny Sturgill-Martin at (443) 907-5289. Applications are accepted at Christmas in April Cecil County P.O. 2303 Elkton, MD, 21922.