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Volunteers wanted - 2014 Community Work Day
04/01/2014 - By Matt Smith/msmith@trcle.com - Cleburne TImes Review
Christmas in Action, which celebrates its 15th anniversary on Saturday, is looking for volunteers to help work on this year’s six homes.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. at Caddo Street Grill, 211 S. Caddo St. The event runs until about 3 p.m.

“Most of the houses are in Cleburne, but we have two in Grandview this year,” CIA board Secretary Teresa Richardson said. “We’ve been expanding out into Johnson County the past three years because we get some funding from United Way, which covers the whole county. We’ve usually done one or two houses in Keene, but we heard about a couple of places in Grandview this year, which some volunteers from [Texas Health Huguley Hospital Fort Worth South] are going to help with.”

CIA targets homes in need of repair owned by elderly, disabled and low-income residents.

“It’s a way to keep them safely in their homes,” Richardson said. “And to help revitalize our neighborhoods and community.”

CIA began, and continues to prosper, in Midland, Richardson said. Although the organization is not city funded, it does enjoy wide support from city officials, she said. Former Cleburne Mayor Tom Hazlewood brought the idea to then-City Manager Joel Victory, Richardson said, and Cleburne held its first CIA event in 1999.

“We generally have 200 to 300 volunteers show up each year,” Richardson said. “And it’s important to stress that CIA would not work without our volunteers. We have everyone from individuals to churches, businesses, Rotary, Lions and other civic groups participate. And it’s open to all ages. We’ve had 5-year-olds out there planting flowers in flower beds.”

A partial list of this year’s projects includes installing Hardie Board siding, painting, replacing three roofs and replacing a falling ceiling in one home, in addition to electrical, plumbing and other repairs.

Volunteers need not worry about having building skills, Richardson said, there’s plenty to be done and much help is needed.

“We’ve done pre-work on several of these homes like the roof replacements,” Richardson said. “The goal is to finish the projects up on Saturday. And we do hire licensed plumbers and electricians, but they can always use help and we have other projects like painting and basic repairs that need to be done.”

CIA, like any charitable organization, is always in need of donations to hire licensed repair workers and pay for materials and supplies, Richardson said.

Donations may be sent to CIA, P.O. Box 983 Cleburne, TX 76033.

City leaders, Richardson said, realize that CIA not only helps residents but also helps rebuild Cleburne’s older neighborhoods.

Richardson said she believes CIA complements Operation Cleburne Pride, a new city initiative to address code violations and properties in need of repairs and clean up.

“Operation Cleburne Pride’s goal is much like ours,” Richardson said. “To make our community nicer and to clean up our housing stock, and to reach out and help those residents in need.”

Any Cleburne or county resident needing help with their home, or who knows someone who does, is urged to call the CIA hot line at 817-641-8610.

“People can call throughout the year and we’ll send them an application,” Richardson said. “We generally look at the applications from September to December to decide our spring projects, and our annual event is always held the first weekend of April.”

CIA volunteers, however, tackle several emergency projects throughout the year, Richardson said.

“We had one lady whose heat went out in October and we didn’t hear about it until January,” Richardson said. “She slept with a space heater in the living room through November and December and said she didn’t want to wake up the fire department because it happened at night. But we got her a new heating unit.”

Several businesses serve as major sponsors each year, Richardson said, and this year is no exception. Some of this year’s sponsors include the Wal-Mart Distribution Center, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, McCoy’s Building Supply, Chesapeake Energy Co. and Access Midstream.

“Christmas in Action is a great program that’s been helping our community for 15 years and I certainly commend their efforts and encourage all our residents and volunteers to join in on Saturday and help our community out,” Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain said.

Cleburne ISD spokeswoman Lisa Magers agreed.

“CIA has long been a favorite community service project with our students,” Magers said. “Among our students out there you’ll see members of the National Honor Society, student council members, Exchangettes and several of our students doing it through their church youth groups. But it’s something our students, whether they’re involved in a group or on their own, gladly get out there and take part in every year, everything from painting to planting flowers to whatever needs to be done.”
On the web: CleburneTimesReview.com

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