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Hundreds volunteer for H&H workday

Volunteers that Hearts and Hammers president Randy Hudson calls “woodchucks” delivered firewood to various homes during the Hearts and Hammers workday on Saturday. Home-repair volunteers helped unload wood at Home #25 near Triangle Road in Langley.  - Breeana Laughlin
Volunteers that Hearts and Hammers president Randy Hudson calls “woodchucks” delivered firewood to various homes during the Hearts and Hammers workday on Saturday. Home-repair volunteers helped unload wood at Home #25 near Triangle Road in Langley.
— image credit: Breeana Laughlin

South Whidbey is already known as being a tight-knit community, and Hearts and Hammers all-day volunteer event could very well be the stitch that connects it all together.

Spirits were high and camaraderie strong Saturday when South Whidbey residents banded together and lent a helping hand to their neighbors.

Early in the morning hundreds of cars packed the South Whidbey High School parking lot and flooded out onto Maxwelton Road.

After getting some coffee and a brief introduction, everyone dispersed to roughly 40 homes on the South End.

“We got a massive amount of work done and a record amount of volunteers,” said Randy Richards, Hearts and Hammers president.

More than 450 people volunteered during the annual workday.

Most repaired homes, while others donated their time cooking food, driving trucks and collecting trash and recyclables.

Their efforts meant a lot to neighbors on the South End whose homes had been needing repairs.

Throughout its history, Hearts and Hammers has followed through with what it was created to do. They help out community members who are physically or financially unable to make repairs to their home on their own.

Hudson said the homeowners are always appreciative of the volunteers work.

“For some people it made a huge difference,” Hudson said.

The community workday is just as meaningful for many of the volunteers.

Dyanne Sheldon has been a volunteer for four years. She said she really enjoys the sense of community that comes along with the event.

“It helps people repair their homes, but as important is the community it builds with the people who are working on the homes,” Sheldon said.

The volunteer said it gives her the chance to meet people with similar values in a new setting.

“It builds community, a sense of place and a shared experience,” Sheldon said.

The community’s support of Hearts and Hammers has been outstanding, according to its president.

“Last year at this time, the expenditures were high and we ran out of funds,” he said.

The organization held an emergency fundraiser and have continued to raise funds throughout the year to build a stronger financial foundation.

“The community understood that it cost more to do this, and they really came through,” Hudson said.

One thing volunteers noted about this year’s event was its organization.

“We were exceptionally well organized this year,” Hudson said. “After 13 years and a whole lot of experience we got it down.”

Home captain Frank Mestemacher noted the smooth sailing as well. He likes the way the Hearts and Hammers board members have the event set up, and did his part to keep everything running smoothly.

Mestemacher was working weeks before the event making sure he would have all the materials needed, plus the volunteers with the skills to get the requested home-repairs done.

“I like to make sure that whatever tasks we take on, we complete them,” Mestemacher said.

He said the workday was a good one.

“The goal was to meet people in the community and help the family out,” Mestemacher said. “Everyone seemed to be having a great time.”

Another successful part of this year’s event was that no one got hurt.

Safety is a top priority for Hearts and Hammers. While many home repairs make the houses a safer place for the owners to live, Hearts and Hammers also wants to make sure their volunteers stay safe.

“It is really important to us that no one got hurt,” Hudson said. “We stress safety and it pays off.”

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