Christmas In April Volunteers Help Homeowners Spruce Up - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

04/26/03

Christmas In April Volunteers Help Homeowners Spruce Up

To leave her home, 76 year old Claire Gilner says she has to walk down the steps sideways. The challenge is even harder for her husband.

She said, "I needed the ramp for my husband who has had a stroke and is in the nursing home. And when he comes, we have problems getting him up steps."

On Saturday, the back steps were replaced by a wheelchair ramp, and rails were added in the front.

The Gilners' Gulfport home got a fresh coat of paint, and the grass was cut.

Claire said "Christmas In April" volunteers did for her what she couldn't do for herself.

Richard Paxton, a volunteer, said, "It's incredible to be able to see the expressions on their face. The first day we came out and explained to her what we were going to do, she actually broke down and cried, so it was really an inspiration to me. It gave me a good feeling inside."

Vivian Walker Lee, another homeowner, says it hurts to watch her own home deteriorate. Her home is different now, though. Volunteers used their skills in carpentry, electrical work and roofing to transform the home of the childless widow.

"She doesn't have anybody to help her out. That's what we're here for to help her out. We're her family today. It hits you in the heart. It makes you feel proud of what you do and I think everybody out here feels the same way that I do" volunteer Randy Bitz said.

"Honey, I'm happy on the inside. I'm overjoyed that somebody cared enough to come. I'm overjoyed. I want to cry but I can't," Lee said.

Lee and Gilner say there are people who can and will take the time to paint a brighter future for those who need it.

Danielle Thomas

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