Liberty Twp. church youth group gets ‘gift’ helping at RASKALS event

The semi-annual RASKALS program in West Chester Twp. was a success as usual and the kids from a Liberty Twp. church who helped out got as much out of the clean-up day as the elderly residents they helped.

The pastor at Royal Redeemer Lutheran Church in Liberty Township, Rev. Joel Morgan said about 40 students from grades five to 12 and parents spruced up the yards and homes of six West Chester residents during the Random Acts of Simple Kindness Affecting Local Seniors event Nov. 9.

“I’ve been at Royal Redeemer for 20 years and we’ve been doing this every year,” Morgan said. “So many times through the years the residents will come out and thank the kids and they’ll have cookies for them. So the kids get to experience that personal relationship and getting to know better the people they are helping out and I think that is a gift to them.”

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Barb Wilson, director of Public Information & Engagement for the township, said about 125 people helped 50 senior citizens with their yard work on that chilly Saturday. She said the event began in the fall of 1996 after a letter to former township administrator Dave Gully from 11-year-old Emily Weber sparked an idea.

Brian Highland and his 17-year-old son Matt had rakes in their hands on RASKALS day and he said they have been volunteering for the event since his son was young. He is very proud of his son.

“I think it’s always great to give back and help others in need no matter what time of the year it is,” he said. “I was proud to see him not only helping the homeowner but also leading some of the younger kids and kind of encouraging them to keep working hard and just having fun.”

The township organizes the giving-back event twice a year in the spring and fall, but Wilson said the need is always greater than the two days can support. So they have started hooking helpers up with elders at other times as well.

“We are really very grateful for all who step up and help on RASKALS day,” she said. “We also appreciate that busy schedules don’t always allow people to be available on that specific day, so we are happy to match volunteers with seniors who need some help, on alternative days.”

Shannon Friend said she was “disappointed” in herself that she hasn’t participated before, because it was wonderful “being around the young kids and seeing them give back.”

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