Appalachian Challenge at Hillside Park raises funds for Abington area volunteers, mission trip


By Ben Freda - For Abington Journal



Sierra Lavelle, age 9 from Dalton, lifts a hay bale as her father Patrick Lavelle looks on during the Appalachian Challenge Saturday, May 21 at Hillside Park.


Ben Freda | For Abington Journal

Amanda Yerke, of Clarks Summit, helps her son Dylan Jones, age 3, with archery shooting as her other son Devin Jones, age 5, tries it on his own during the Appalachian Challenge Saturday, May 21 at Hillside Park.


Ben Freda | For Abington Journal

Nine-year-old Ayla Holgate, left, of Clarks Summit, climbs down the wall while Jolene Miles, of Nicholson, helps her son Kaden Miles, age 2, climb up the wall during the Appalachian Challenge Saturday, May 21 at Hillside Park.


Ben Freda | For Abington Journal

SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. — A net crawl. A wall climb. A tire trot.

All of these events and more could be found at Hillside Park on Saturday, May 21 as part of a fundraiser for the Appalachia Service Project (ASP) called “The Appalachian Challenge.”

Other obstacles included balancing across a slack-line, archery shooting, and hammering nails on a tree stump.

Clarks Green United Methodist Church participates in the Appalachia Service Project annually by sending local volunteers aid a community in need in the Appalachia region. This year 21 volunteers from the Scranton and Abington areas will go to Logan County, West Virginia, from July 2 to 9 to repair homes for low-income families.

“A lot of the homes are old family homes that families have lived in for generations and just never updated because they don’t know how or they don’t have the resources to,” said coordinator of the Appalachian Service Project at Clarks Green United Methodist Church Sue Wittman.

Wittman’s daughter Carlie Holgate once accompanied her on a service trip in Crum, West Virginia in 1997 where they did home repair including flooring and sanding doors.

“It was a good, eye-opening experience,” Holgate said. “It was more than building decks. It was building relationships. We had a relationship with the families we helped.”

Caron Shimo and her daughter, Veronica Butler, have pitched in during the last three Appalachia Service Projects. Shimo, who helped youngsters at the archery shooting event Saturday, said she and Butler were able to see firsthand the effects of their work.

Last year, they went to St. Paul, Virginia, where they repaired a trailer for a family with three boys, ages 4, 6 and 8. They did flooring, painting, and work on the outside porch of the trailer. They became friends with the family on Facebook and were able to see photos of the finished trailer.

“With social media, we got to see the end result,” said Shimo.

This is the 21st year Clarks Summit United Methodist Church has sponsored a trip for the service project. Other local sponsors include D.G. Nicholas, Lawrence Young Funeral Home, and Flowserve.

“(The Appalachia Service Project) has benefited a lot of people in the community besides the people that we work for in Appalachia,” said Wittman. “Our kids have learned so much about serving others and helping others by doing it. Students who needed to do a service project for school chose to do the Appalachian Service Project.”

The Appalachian Challenge was held in memory of Jeanette Arnold, who brought the Appalachia Service Project to Clarks Green United Methodist Church. She was a member of the church from 1976 until her death in 2013. The church raises funds for the Appalachia Service Project throughout the year.

The children and parents enjoyed the Appalachian Challenge on Saturday.

“I think it’s a lot of fun,” said Clarks Summit resident Amanda Yerke, who brought her sons, 5-year-old Devin Jones and 3-year-old Dylan Jones, to the event.

Dalton residents Patrick and Robin Lavelle came with their 9-year-old daughter Sierra Lavelle.

“We’ve been going to the fundraisers for three years,” said Patrick. “We’re hoping Sierra, when she’s older, will go on a service project.”

The Appalachia Service Project is a national Christian ministry headquartered in Johnson City, Tennessee, but is open to people of all faiths. It sends volunteers to conduct home repairs for low-income families in Central Appalachian states, which are Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. For more information, visit www.asphome.org.

Sierra Lavelle, age 9 from Dalton, lifts a hay bale as her father Patrick Lavelle looks on during the Appalachian Challenge Saturday, May 21 at Hillside Park.
http://theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/web1_20160521_102228.jpgSierra Lavelle, age 9 from Dalton, lifts a hay bale as her father Patrick Lavelle looks on during the Appalachian Challenge Saturday, May 21 at Hillside Park. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal

Amanda Yerke, of Clarks Summit, helps her son Dylan Jones, age 3, with archery shooting as her other son Devin Jones, age 5, tries it on his own during the Appalachian Challenge Saturday, May 21 at Hillside Park.
http://theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/web1_20160521_103057.jpgAmanda Yerke, of Clarks Summit, helps her son Dylan Jones, age 3, with archery shooting as her other son Devin Jones, age 5, tries it on his own during the Appalachian Challenge Saturday, May 21 at Hillside Park. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal

Nine-year-old Ayla Holgate, left, of Clarks Summit, climbs down the wall while Jolene Miles, of Nicholson, helps her son Kaden Miles, age 2, climb up the wall during the Appalachian Challenge Saturday, May 21 at Hillside Park.
http://theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/web1_20160521_113204.jpgNine-year-old Ayla Holgate, left, of Clarks Summit, climbs down the wall while Jolene Miles, of Nicholson, helps her son Kaden Miles, age 2, climb up the wall during the Appalachian Challenge Saturday, May 21 at Hillside Park. Ben Freda | For Abington Journal

By Ben Freda

For Abington Journal

Reach the Abington Journal newsroom at 570-587-1148 or by email at news@theabingtonjournal.com.

Reach the Abington Journal newsroom at 570-587-1148 or by email at news@theabingtonjournal.com.

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