Editorial: Admirable Fourth of July

Hammers hitting nails, hard work in the barn-raising tradition, people pitching in to help out others who are in need — what could be more American? What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July?
Some 280 Ridgefielders are off working to repair other people’s homes as part of the Appalachia Service Project — a national program, run in Ridgefield through Jesse Lee Methodist Church, but involving volunteers from other faiths and backgrounds.
ASP, as those involved call it, has been sending young Ridgefielders and adult volunteers out to work making homes “warmer, safer, drier” for more than 30 years. The national organization helps families in West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina. They put new roofs on homes, repair floors and foundations, build ramps for people who use wheelchairs. This year the volunteers from Ridgefield went to help people in Kentucky and Tennessee.
The volunteers include both students and adults. For many, especially the young people participating for the first time, it’s an experience that broadens their world. They get to know the people whose homes they’re working on. They stay in churches and schools with other volunteers from other places around the country.
And it’s not just a week away. They do training ahead of time. Some of this is learning to use power tools safely, but there’s also a cultural aspect. The people they’ll be helping come from a different America than the one most of the volunteers have gotten to know growing up in Ridgefield. The volunteers also raise money to support the program. The kids who participate are expected to seek out 25 donors good for $10 each. And they do old-fashioned car washes.
The ASP volunteers left last Friday, and the vans packed with volunteers are expected to arrive back in town Sunday afternoon.
The kids will be celebrating their return with an ice cream social — with a slide show — Saturday, July 13, at 6:30 at Jesse Lee, and at the church’s services at 9 and 10:30 Sunday, July 14.
So much is worrisome as America celebrates its independence this July 4, it’s reassuring to know there are still young people volunteering to help out folks who are less fortunate, and adults committed to guiding and training them.
It represents the best of what this country has always been — and should always be.