It's never too early to share the Christmas spirit. At least it isn't in Somervell County.
On Saturday, that spirit was alive as a slew of volunteers banded together for an annual service project. For the sixth consecutive year, Christmas in Action delivered home repairs and improvements to five property owners. The project also shined on two non-profit organizations - Barnard's Mill and Somervell County Food Bank.
Looking at the residential project sites, the homes - and the residents within - have similar stories to share. The residents love their community, their homes and the neighbors who always offer a helping hand.
Since Rio was diagnosed with bone cancer in late 2011, the Cantu family's financial resources and time have been focused on his treatment. On Saturday, CIA volunteers made improvements to the family's home on CR 2010.
At the CR 2018 house owned by Somervell County native Don Hankins, 82, structural repairs, including the replacement of flooring, construction of a new entrance and reinforcement of the exterior of the structure, were made.
At the quaint A-frame of Eva Hanke, a retiree who relies on government benefits and profits from garage sales to make ends meet, the white picket fence greeting travelers as they approach downtown got a fresh coat of paint. And, among other things, the leaves piled across lush landscape of the Barnard Street cottage were removed from the property.
At the Miller residence on College Street, a fresh coat of paint and yard work were on the wish list. Improvements at the home of Ann Rhodes on State Highway 144 included the construction of a wheelchair ramp.
While the volunteers and project leaders made the repairs in no time, Deedee Jones, CIA registration chair, said the event would not be possible without community members willing to roll up their sleeves to assist their neighbors in need. This year, Clint Staples of Staples Construction, Anthony Roffino of Roffino Custom Homes, Mario Cossio, David Culp, Lee Sundby, John Bailey and Darrell Best served as house captains, overseeing repair and renovation projects.
"They do all the planning, acquisition of materials and supervision," Jones said. "Their job is probably the most important."
Jason Elder, with Higginbotham Brothers, is also an integral part of the organization. He serves on the CIA board as materials chair. Other board members include Hank Jones, chair; Billy Strayhorn, secretary; Darrell Best and Allen Sumners, fundraising; Dwayne Griffin, Anthony Roffino and Mario Cossio, project identification; Martha Schoolfield, food; Steve Monroe, publicity; and Sandra Ramsay, registration.
But the organizers rely on volunteers. Laura Harlin, National Honor Society sponsor at Glen Rose High School, took more than 50 students to work on this year's projects.
The lunch crew, Martha and John Schoolfield, served a kick-off breakfast, delivered cookies for a mid-morning snack and packed up lunches - desserts from Pie Peddlers and meat from Hammond's B-B-Q - that they delivered to project sites.
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Christmas in Action was first introduced to missions committee of First Untied Methodist Church by David Leach, former pastor.
"The chair of the committee, Jane Middleton, took the idea and ran with it," Jones said.
The mission and purpose of Christmas in Action of Somervell County is to preserve and revitalize houses and communities, assuring low-income elderly and disabled homeowners can live in safety, warmth and independence.
CIA efforts are not restricted to April. The organization promotes renovations on a year-round basis, calling on community assistance throughout the year. Volunteers can provide physical labor, and monetary contributions are also needed.
"The cost of materials to make home improvements are covered by Christmas in Action," Jones said, adding the homeowners are not asked to reimburse project or material costs.
Donations can be sent to Christmas in Action of Somervell County, PO Box 426, Glen Rose, TX 76043. You may also contact Hank Jones at (254) 897-9240 or Deedee Jones at 396-1145.