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Local Farmers Help Kansas Wildfire Victims April 20, 2017

In early March, wildfires hit Kansas farmers hard, destroying homes, farm buildings, livestock and more.

Kirkwood resident Roddy Strang was recently part of a volunteer effort that delivered hay and fencing materials to the families affected by the wildfires. Strang grew up in the Clark County area of Kansas, south of Dodge City near the Oklahoma border, and worked on many farms in the region.

Strang said he realized how bad the fires could be for people he knew personally and for entire communities in the region. "A guy I worked for while in college lost all his grazing and hay. Another who puts up alfalfa hay for a living lost 23 miles of fence. Another guy I worked for lost 300 miles of fence. There's fencing to be done out there for years," Strang said.

Farming in the affected area is primarily beef cattle and wheat and hay crops, with much larger farms than are typical in southeastern Pennsylvania. Fires fanned by winds moved rapidly in some spots, burning off the surface vegetation, while areas where the fire lingered got so hot the roots were burned and killed.

Lines of trees planted as windbreaks were burnt, and without the plant cover, exposed soil started to blow, with drifts closing in on roads until rain two weeks after the fires helped stabilize the soil.

Strang was accompanied on the trip by Charlie Fleischmann of Upper Oxford Township. Strang had already had plans to join Fleischmann on a trip to the Topeka area to pick up two bulls to bring back to Fleischmann's mother's farm in Virginia.

"That's how I got involved," Fleischmann said. "Roddy was calling around. He got all sorts of people to donate fence posts and wire."

Instead of driving west with an empty truck, they borrowed a larger truck and trailer, gathered volunteer support and trucked out nine tons of hay and 1,000 pounds of fencing materials to donate to farm families working to repair their damages. Hay grower Jamie Hicks of Unionville added to the hay effort, and two other trucks were filled and driven to Kansas as well.

Their trucks went to Ashland, Kan., where the central drop-off point was a feed store. "(The materials) were taken to central locations, and from there they either directed tractor-trailers to somebody's individual house or farm or they would unload there and organize it to get delivered to whoever needed it," Fleischmann explained.

According to the Ashland Community Foundation, which has organized a fire relief fund, it is estimated that 85 percent of Clark County burned, which includes 351,000 acres. More information about the fires and relief efforts can be found at www.ashlandcf.com.

"We drove through miles and miles of burned-out areas," Fleischmann said. "It's pure luck that you didn't have more people die."

"Tens of thousands of miles of barbed wire fencing need to be put back up. The numbers are staggering," Strang added. "What I'm trying to do is get the word out, to see if there's any crews that want to go out. There's a list of ranchers that need help."

Help has been coming into the area from all across the Midwest. "They need it; they don't ask for much," Strang said. "With all the giving everybody's doing, it gives them hope for humanity."

Strang is helping arrange future trips for fence-building volunteers, with hopes of making a trip in June. For more information or to assist in the effort, individuals may contact him at 301-509-5581.

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Foster Parent Sessions Slated April 20, 2017

Families United Network, 412 S. Angle St., Mount Joy, will offer foster parent orientation sessions on Thursday, May 4, and Thursday, May 18, from 6 to 8 p.m.

To attend one of the sessions, readers may call 800-722-0136 or email Holly at htanner@families4kids.org.

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ODC Auxiliary Slates Plant Sale April 19, 2017

Occupational Development Center (ODC) is holding a spring flower sale in conjunction with its chicken barbeuce and craft and vendor fair, which is slated for Saturday, May 6, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Occupational Development Center, 640 Martha Ave., Lancaster. A sale of flowers and herbs will be conducted by the ODC Auxiliary on May 6. Preorders will be available for pickup between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will also be a flower and herb selection of cash-and-carry items under a tent at the chicken barbecue event.

Geraniums, impatiens, and zinnias can be ordered in advance by Monday, April 24. Also available for preorders are 4-inch pots of herbs and quart pots of lavender. Information on preorders can be obtained by calling Harriet Eshleman at 397-0283.

Additionally, gerbera daisies and osteospermum plants will be available on the day of the sale.

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Finding The Right Volunteer Opportunity April 19, 2017

Many parents feel involving their children in volunteering at an early age can have a profound, long-lasting impact on their children. But youngsters are not the only ones who can reap great rewards from volunteering, as studies show that men and women at, beyond, or approaching retirement age also benefit greatly from volunteer work. Finding the right volunteer opportunity can make all the difference for older men and women who want to give back to their communities.

Research from the Corporation for National and Community Service found that more than 20 million older adults contributed in excess of three billion hours of community service time each year from 2011 to 2013. The reasons why older adults volunteer are varied, but in its 2014 survey the AARP's Experience Corps found that 97 percent of its volunteers indicated that their volunteer work with the organization gave them a sense of purpose.

Older adults who want to volunteer but have little or no history with volunteering might not know where to begin with regard to finding the right opportunity. The right fit can make all the difference for volunteers and the people they help. The tips that follow might help older adults as they look for an opportunity that best utilizes their skills and experience.

People should know their schedule. Older adults who are still working but want to volunteer may have a firm grasp on their schedules, but even retirees should not overestimate how much time they have to volunteer. Before looking for an opportunity, individuals should write down commitments and their daily schedule, using this list to determine how much free time they have to volunteer. Some opportunities require greater time commitments than others, so people should make sure they know just how much time they can devote to an opportunity before signing up.

Due consideration should be given to one's experience. Older adults who have retired or are on the cusp of retirement have a lifetime of experience they can use to help others. Imparting wisdom learned in one's professional life can provide a sense of purpose and even make people feel as though they are still actively involved in the industry where they built their professional reputation. But life experience can also prove invaluable in volunteering opportunities. Mentoring programs give volunteers the chance to help young people, and such opportunities can involve more than just offering professional advice.

Individuals should not downplay the significance of certain opportunities. Volunteering opportunities come in many variations, and each is significant in its own right. Coaching a grandchild's soccer team can have as significant an impact on the people helped as other volunteering opportunities. Volunteers offer their time because they have a passion to help others. That help can be given in a myriad of ways.

Volunteering is a selfless act, and volunteers are the backbone of many successful charitable organizations. But older men and women should leave time for the rest of their lives as well. Retirement should be fulfilling but also include time for recreation, so individuals should not downplay how important hobbies are to them in an attempt to find more time to volunteer. No retiree wants to grow resentful of his or her volunteer work because it leaves little time for other pursuits. Individuals should do their best to balance charitable endeavors with the other things in life that matter to them.

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Seat At The Table Receives Funding April 19, 2017

Memorial Health Fund, a supporting organization of the York County Community Foundation, has awarded a $250,000 grant to A Seat at the Table, a collaborative effort to improve the charitable food system while increasing healthy food access to York County residents in need. The collaborative partnership consists of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, York County Food Bank, Catholic Harvest Food Pantry, New Hope Ministries, and the York County Food Alliance and was formed in response to the release of Gov. Wolf's "Blueprint for a Hunger-Free Pennsylvania."

In York County, there is an unmet meal gap of more than 4.5 million meals per year, meaning that current efforts are only meeting 49 percent of the hunger needs of the county. To help close this gap, the grant funds will secure a program manager to gather data to map the healthy food access network and share this information with Feeding America.

Feeding America, a nationally recognized source on hunger issues, will then review the findings, conduct analysis, and ultimately make recommendations to provide a two-year scope of work for the collaborative. It will act as a neutral party focused on best practice approaches to close the meal gap.

Additionally, the program is addressing immediate needs by investing in a Pantry Pilot approach with York County charitable food providers to model best practices to implementing healthy eating options to food pantries and consumers. The third part of the program is the initial implementation of capacity and infrastructure improvements so that food providers, youth programs, and nutrition access systems can respond to the recommendations from Feeding America.

For more information, readers may visit www.yccf.org.

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Partnership To Pilot Healthy Eating Program April 19, 2017

LifePath Christian Ministries has announced that it is partnering with the York County Food Alliance to develop and pilot LifePath to Healthy Eating, a program to provide nutrition assistance to food-insecure household members living in the "food gap," which is the gap between the income requirement for SNAP and other food assistance programs and the income associated with a livable wage.

The program recently received a $4,325 Community Partnership Grant from WellSpan Health to support the collaborative effort, targeted toward low-income families with at least one child.

Designed as a seven-week program, LifePath to Healthy Eating will engage individuals referred from Alliance partner agencies and provide them with education and skill-building opportunities to learn how to purchase, prepare, and serve nutritious meals. Participants will also receive a meal kit and vouchers to purchase fruits and vegetables from partnering farmers markets. The program will also provide an opportunity to enhance skill-building opportunities offered by LifePath Christian Ministries, as select residents will be actively involved in the preparation of meal kits and program logistics.

The 2015 York County Community Needs Assessment found that only 4 percent of adults consume three servings of vegetables daily. For residents living in poverty, the percentage eating the recommended amount of vegetables falls below 1 percent.

LifePath to Healthy Eating is also supported financially by Troy and Deb Jensen.

For more information, readers may visit www.lifepathyork.org or http://yorkcountyfoodalliance.com.

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Local Group Will Collect Donations April 18, 2017

Our Lady of Lourdes Council of the Knights of Columbus will once again collect donations for the Arc of Pennsylvania on Sunday, April 29, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Yoder's Market, 14 S. Tower Road, New Holland.

All donations collected by the Knights will go toward helping the Arc of Pennsylvania to improve the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities through programs involving education, shelter, and employment.

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Hershey Food Bank Marks 50 Years April 13, 2017

The Hershey Food Bank and Community Outreach is currently celebrating 50 years of service. Since 1967, the organization has been helping families who have encountered challenging economic times.

The organization serves the Derry Township community by providing food and assistance to families and individuals in financial distress. Clients are those whose children receive free or subsidized school lunches, who are on the SNAP program, who have lost their job or have a low-paying job, who are single parents going through difficult times, who are on low fixed incomes or disability or who receive medical assistance, and who are in the Section 8 housing program.

The food bank is open to serve clients five times each month but also works with families that have conflicting schedules. Each family is permitted two food pickups per month, and the distributions include fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs, meat, juices and other staples to feed the entire family. The food bank also offers diapers, baby food, and paper and personal care products.

On a case-by-case basis, the organization also may provide other services such as emergency utility and rent assistance for established food bank clients, budget counseling, and referrals to other agencies for needs the food bank is not able to meet.

The Hershey Food Bank is entirely staffed by volunteers. The organization previously served its clients out of the community's church basements and later built an expanded facility at 120 E. Derry Road. The building was made possible thanks to the support of many local businesses, residents, churches and civic clubs.

Anyone how needs assistance or knows someone who needs assistance may email hersheyfoodbank@verizon.net or call 520-3143.

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"Help The Fight" Plans Fundraising Events April 12, 2017

"We help people battling breast cancer pay their bills," said Lynda Charles, who founded Help the Fight with her husband, David. "We have found that most people are one major illness away from bankruptcy."

The organization is dedicated to providing financial support to individuals who are receiving treatment for breast cancer and for those who need the necessary screening process, including mammograms and genetic testing, to detect breast cancer.

"Being able to tell a patient you can help them is the best part (of working for Help the Fight)," said administrative coordinator Susie Dailey.

Help the Fight was created in 2009 after a confluence of events. In 1989, Lynda's mother died from breast cancer at age 49. Twenty years later, David's sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, and then within weeks, a co-worker was also diagnosed with the disease. Lynda recalled her mother's fight to live and saw the financial impact on David's sister, and she wanted to help. Within two and a half weeks, the Charleses and their friends and co-workers put together a bake sale that raised $9,000.

Initially, Lynda ran Help the Fight out of the three-car garage located on the Charles farm outside Millersville. Recently, however, the organization moved into space in a storefront at 143 Oakridge Drive, Mountville, that is nestled between David's two businesses. Lynda is pleased to have her garage back for its intended use, but she is even more excited about Help the Fight's progress.

"We are growing, and we are helping all the local communities," Lynda remarked.

Last year, Help the Fight supported 185 patients. Applicants must provide verification of their diagnosis or testing order, and the information is held in strict confidence. The process is not a long one, and in fact, some applicants have received funds within 12 hours of applying.

"It's difficult to reach out and ask for help, yet that's what we (are here for)," Lynda said. "We want to alleviate even the smallest amount of stress for them."

Bestowing money requires raising funds, and Help the Fight has numerous fundraising events throughout the year. An annual gala affair is held at Spooky Nook in October and features a buffet, prizes, auctions, and dancing.

"We've grown because everyone who comes wants to come again," Lynda said. "We work very hard for that event."

Help the Fight hosts a cash giveaway during the month of June, and entry tickets are on sale now. Orders are also being accepted for a sub and sandwich sale. Orders are due by Thursday, May 11, and deliveries will be made on Thursday, May 18.

On Saturday, April 22, Help the Fight will host a "back to our roots" bake sale and yard sale from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Yard sale spaces are available for a fee for folks who would like to sell their items. Donations of individually wrapped baked goods for the bake sale are also accepted.

To reserve spaces, order sandwiches, or learn more about Help the Fight, readers may call 455-7095, email helpthefightnow@gmail.com, or visit www.helpthefight.org. Updates are also posted on the organization's Facebook page.

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Financial Counseling Posted April 10, 2017

The Ann B. Barshinger Financial Empowerment Center for Lancaster County provides comprehensive services designed to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to solve financial challenges and build financial stability. The center can help analyze finances, develop a budget, review credit reports, and reduce debt.

Services are provided on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon through The Factory Ministries at the Together Community Center, 3293 Lincoln Highway East, Paradise.

For an appointment, readers may contact Tabor Community Services at 358-9364 or email bfolker@tabornet.org. More information is available at www.tabornet.org.

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