Volunteers and good deeds are making a difference

May 4, 2008 

Over the year-end holidays, we called it the “Spirit of Giving” — a nine-day series on volunteers making a difference in Centre County.

The stories featured your neighbors and friends and simply highlighted what they do to help others, like so many residents in Happy Valley.

You may remember reading about volunteers Saloni Jain at Mount Nittany Medical Center, Michele Hamilton at Mid-State Literacy Council, Robert Davy at Howard Food Bank, Jeanie Wiker at Millheim Outreach Center, Dee Hall at the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, Bill Grafmyre at Bellefonte’s Logan Fire Company No. 1, Blake Eyster at Centre Volunteers in Medicine and Mary Etzeiler at State College Meals on Wheels.

Larry and Ruth Snyder also were featured for their remarkable work in raising thousands of dollars to support Christian orphanages in Myanmar, formerly Burma.

The stories were presented “in the spirit of the holiday season,” as the editor’s note said, but you no doubt thought they should continue into the next season and beyond. So did we.

The volunteers’ series is coming back, just in time for spring. This time it’s weekly with a new name, “Helping neighbors,” and you’ll read the stories each Monday in the Centre Daily Times.

Last week, the debut featured Richard Wylie, who organizes an annual benefit concert for Housing Transitions, which operates an emergency shelter in State College and offers other services to residents in need of a place to live.

On Monday, you’ll catch up with Connie Schroeder, formerly of the Centre County United Way, as she’s busy working toward one of the region’s big events — the American Association of University Women book sale May 10 to 13 at Snider Agricultural Arena on the Penn State campus.

“Helping neighbors” will get around the county, featuring a new volunteer each week. With your help it can continue from season to season.

You can nominate someone for a future profile by sending an e-mail to cdtnewstips@centredaily.com, and enjoy the “Helping neighbors” addition to our Monday paper.

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A beautification project for a town center. A new bridge on a hiking trail. A plan to help an ailing neighbor. These are just some of the good deeds suggested by readers in our “Pay it Forward” campaign.

Many are short and to the point, explaining an act of kindness in the community and how the prize of $500 would enable it to be carried out. Some have planned ways for the money to grow beyond the initial amount awarded, and ideas have come in so far from State College, Centre Hall, Pleasant Gap and Snow Shoe.

Our campaign is one of 70 around the state, all supported by Pennsylvania newspapers. The result, no doubt, will be great stories from Pittsburgh to Reading and right here.

A panel of CDT staffers and community members will judge our entries, and you still have time to share an innovative plan to carry out a good deed.

Entries are due by Wednesday and can be e-mailed with “Pay it Forward Challenge” in the subject line to Ed Stoddard, market development manager, at estoddar@centredaily.com. You can also drop off your entry marked “Pay It Forward” at our office, 3400 E. College Ave., State College.

Best wishes, and perhaps we’ll share your good deed with all of our readers.

As always, please contact me with concerns you have about anything in the Centre Daily Times or online at www.centredaily.com.

Executive Editor Bob Heisse can be reached at bheisse@centredaily.com or 231-4640. His blog, “Back in Happy Valley,” is on the Web site.

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