Christmas comes early to Charles County
650 volunteers help restore the homes of elderly and disabled
The Christmas in April program helped renovate and restore 16 different homes in Charles County on Saturday with approximately 650 volunteers pitching in to help elderly, disabled and low-income residents.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Christmas in April in the county and, to date, the program has repaired 573 homes with more than $13 million of donated funds and more than 30,000 volunteers.
This year, the average budget per house was $2,000 and two of the 16 houses had total roof re- placements.
At Krista Garrett’s home in Waldorf, 22 volunteers worked to help restore the home which had fallen into disrepair.
“It’s amazing. I am just completely overwhelmed,” Garrett said. “My husband passed away in 2009 and I’m disabled, and since then I feel my house has been falling down around my ears.”
Volunteers installed a new garage door, dishwasher, microwave, fencing, replaced all the electrical outlets and much more. Members
of the Charles County Fire and EMS Association also came by to help, installing five smoke detectors throughout the home. The entire property underwent repair with all volunteers carrying out their assigned task.
“I didn’t expect this. This is just incredible,” Garrett said. “They’re fixing absolutely everything. It is truly a blessing.”
Garrett thanked the volunteers who made this possible, and especially her fellow parishioners, Paul and Dee Stockman, who recommended that she apply for renovations through Christmas in April.
Dee, the house captain in charge, and her husband have been involved with the program for a decade now.
“It’s really exciting every year,” Dee said. “There’s a lot of behind the scenes work, a lot. It can be stressful. … This is our tenth year and we just absolutely love doing it.”
And Dee could not thank the volunteers enough.
“The volunteers are absolutely wonderful. We couldn’t do it without them,” she said. “My team leaders, oh my gosh ... These guys are top-notch.”
Sandie Branan, Christ- mas in April treasurer, has been involved with the program since it began in Charles County 25 years ago.
“When you’ve helped a senior that struggles and help them stay in their home, it really matters,” she said. “They want to stay in their home; they had their children there; they were married there.”
U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md. 5th) also toured the Garrett home, encouraging and thanking the volunteers.
“Christmas is about giving and taking care of neighbors,” Hoyer said. “It is such an extraordinary program … the community comes together.”
“It is definitely Christmas,” Garrett said, watching the volunteers as they worked. “It really is.”
On Saturday, Christmas in April celebrated its 25th anniversary in Charles County. Since it began, the nonprofit group has repaired 573 homes with over $13 million in donations.
Christmas in April volunteers Sierra and Carlos do their part to help completely renovate a Waldorf home on Saturday.
Outside a house being renovated by Christmas in April volunteers, U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, Christmas in April treasurer Sandie Branan, and president Alvin Stewart receive a donation from UnitedHealthcare to help repair homes of the elderly and disabled.
On Saturday, Christmas in April celebrated its 25th anniversary in Charles County. Since it began, the nonprofit group has repaired 573 homes with more than $13 million in donations.