Homeowners appreciative of Christmas in Action assistance

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GALESBURG — The sound of hammering echoed on North Farnham Street Saturday morning. It was barely past ten o’clock and a dilapidated garage had already been torn down and its remains loaded into a trailer. The process took only a little more than an hour.

It was the work of Christmas in Action, a non-profit organization which has helped fix up Galesburg properties for decades.

“Our focus is on elderly, disabled and low-income homeowners,” said board member Sue Dutell, “doing exterior work.”

Eight properties were on the list for fixing up on Saturday, more than the usual three or four that are helped each year.

“We are happy to help as many as we can,” explained Dutell, who has been involved since 2001. “But we are limited by the number of volunteers we get. We really do need more volunteers, as well as more young people to serve on the board.”

Along to help on Saturday were members of Knox College fraternity Phi Gamma Delta, including Gianni Sencherey, who comes to Knox from Ghana in west Africa.

“We’re very big into service and community service,” said the sophomore. “It’s a nice experience and it’s very fun to help.”

On Beecher Avenue, young men worked in unison, the sound of scrapers loud as they removed the paint from a backyard fence in preparation to apply a new coat.

Craig Hillery, owner of Hillery Constructon, had already helped replace two doors. Others painted the garage. The front wheelchair ramp was next to be repaired and painted.

“I just want to give back,” said Hillery. “I’m super blessed and without this community I wouldn’t be where I am, so it’s good to help out.”

Volunteers worked to replace eave paneling on East First Street for Bonnie Guenther, the sound of drills mixing with the birds chirping in the surrounding pine trees.

“I’m very excited,” said Guenther. “They are doing even more than I expected. I just thought they would patch the holes, but they are going to do the whole thing. I’m just tickled.”

Galesburg fire chief Tom Simkins worked alongside volunteers from Dowers Roofing, making a number of repairs on East Knox Street. As Simkins and others built a new set of front stairs, David Dowers made repairs to the roof.

“A raccoon had torn a hole and was nesting in there,” he explained. “I’m just glad he was gone. I would have came down that ladder real quick.”

His wife, DeAnna, assisted. “We already cleaned up the bushes, too,” she said.

Multiple yard waste bags sat filled with bush trimmings and old leaves.

“We want to keep Galesburg beautiful. When I grew up everyone knew and helped out their neighbors, and we don’t have enough of that now.”

“I saw the applications at Hy-Vee while I was getting stamps, so I went ahead and filled it out,” said Phyliss Herslow. “I only named two or three things. I really didn’t know if they would help or what they would do. I was scared after I applied. I wasn’t sure what would happen.

“I’m just thrilled to death. This makes things so much easier for me. I sure worry a lot about things. I kept worrying about the mailman falling on those steps. The railing was leaning so bad. My neighbor noticed the roof. I couldn’t tell.”

She stood next to a blossoming young magnolia tree, watching Dowers work on the roof.

“I’m so glad they could help. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am. I just wish there was some way I could help them. I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m very appreciative.”

[“Source-galesburg”]