Volunteers brighten up Wilmington man’s return home from hospital


By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com



Boxes of new Christmas lights are passed out to volunteers who will soon go to work decorating the residence of a Wilmington-area man and his wife, Mark and Deborah Hess.

Boxes of new Christmas lights are passed out to volunteers who will soon go to work decorating the residence of a Wilmington-area man and his wife, Mark and Deborah Hess.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

Looping lights around shrubs near the front steps are, from left, Tanya Snarr and Wilmington College basketball coach Micah Mills.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

Who needs a ladder when you’re 6’ 7” in height? From left are Wilmington College men’s basketball players Collmann Aaron (he’s 6-7) from Illinois and Todd Larkin from Mississippi. Not pictured but helping them out with lighting the tree was Chloee Thomas from Ohio.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

Many hands make for lighter work. Community members and Wilmington College students join together to hang Christmas lights upon the home of a resident who just underwent kidney transplant surgery.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

With packages of newly purchased Christmas lights at their feet, some of the volunters huddle up to plan their next moves.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

UNION TOWNSHIP — Community and college volunteers, along with local nonprofits, businesses and city government got together on a last-minute service project and made it happen.

Long-time resident Mark Hess had kidney transplant surgery on Thursday, Nov. 19. His children reside other places around the United States, but his daughter Tara thought it would be really nice if her father’s house were bedecked with Christmas lights when he returned home from the hospital.

So she contacted Justin Prather with her idea and he led the project. Others were also willing to pitch in and assist in hanging lights on Hess’ home exterior and greenery on Loving Lane. Hess is a U.S. military veteran, presently works at the Presbyterian Church of Wilmington, and at one point drove a city taxi cab.

Friday, Nov. 20 was the last in-person day for Wilmington College students this semester before they went online, and project supporters reached out to them at the last minute, said Amanda Drake Harrison, president of United Way of Clinton County. Student-athletes and others from WC showed up on Friday afternoon to light up the outside of the house next to the cul-de-sac circle.

They festooned trees and shrubs, as well.

A coach and a couple WC men’s basketball players, including 6-foot-7-inch tall Collmann Aaron from Illinois, were part of the college contingent. As the college’s Senior Director of Public Relations Randall Sarvis said, “The perfect group for hanging Christmas lights!”

During the community service activity, one person was even observed using a power hedge trimmer on a front-yard bush to ensure it looked sharp.

After the volunteer work crew had been hanging lights for a while, Mrs. Deborah Hess came to the front door and, while maintaining social distance, thanked them.

Mark got home Monday night and reportedly is doing well. It’s safe to assume he was pleasantly surprised to see the house and yard aglow from a bevy of lights.

Here is a list of project participants and supporters: project leader Justin Prather, volunteer James Prather, Wilmington College basketball coach Micah Mills, Wilmington College Director of Service & Civic Engagement Chip Murdock (he also is the WC director of Diversity & Inclusion), volunteers Tanya Snarr, Jack Powell, several WC students, and United Way of Clinton County President Amanda Harrison.

Making donations were Operation Cherrybend, Liberty Center, Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), Jen Woodland, City of Wilmington Maintenance & Repair Supt. Jerry Runk for loaning an extension ladder, lunch for volunteers from Marty Beaugard Sr., supplies from Lowe’s, and drinks from Kroger.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

Boxes of new Christmas lights are passed out to volunteers who will soon go to work decorating the residence of a Wilmington-area man and his wife, Mark and Deborah Hess.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/11/web1_passing_lights_p.jpgBoxes of new Christmas lights are passed out to volunteers who will soon go to work decorating the residence of a Wilmington-area man and his wife, Mark and Deborah Hess. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

Looping lights around shrubs near the front steps are, from left, Tanya Snarr and Wilmington College basketball coach Micah Mills.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/11/web1_bushes_p.jpgLooping lights around shrubs near the front steps are, from left, Tanya Snarr and Wilmington College basketball coach Micah Mills. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

Who needs a ladder when you’re 6’ 7” in height? From left are Wilmington College men’s basketball players Collmann Aaron (he’s 6-7) from Illinois and Todd Larkin from Mississippi. Not pictured but helping them out with lighting the tree was Chloee Thomas from Ohio.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/11/web1_lights_4_p.jpgWho needs a ladder when you’re 6’ 7” in height? From left are Wilmington College men’s basketball players Collmann Aaron (he’s 6-7) from Illinois and Todd Larkin from Mississippi. Not pictured but helping them out with lighting the tree was Chloee Thomas from Ohio. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

Many hands make for lighter work. Community members and Wilmington College students join together to hang Christmas lights upon the home of a resident who just underwent kidney transplant surgery.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/11/web1_hanging_p.jpgMany hands make for lighter work. Community members and Wilmington College students join together to hang Christmas lights upon the home of a resident who just underwent kidney transplant surgery. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

With packages of newly purchased Christmas lights at their feet, some of the volunters huddle up to plan their next moves.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/11/web1_lights_2_p.jpgWith packages of newly purchased Christmas lights at their feet, some of the volunters huddle up to plan their next moves. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

By Gary Huffenberger

ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com