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4-H ambassadors take part in local service project at Lazarus United Church of Christ

LINEBORO - Monday was the first time Brittany Lippy had visited her church, Lazarus United Church of Christ, since the day of the fire.
"I was a little scared to come back," she said. "I was afraid I was going to cry."
But instead, Lippy, an 11th-grader at Manchester Valley High School, sprang into action. She and the other 4-H ambassadors fluffed wreaths, shaped ribbon into bows and then placed wreaths on the graves of veterans at Lazarus Union Cemetery Monday afternoon as part of a project to honor those who served in the military.
The 160-year-old Lazarus church, located near the Maryland-Pennsylvania border, was destroyed by an early morning fire Dec. 3. The shell of the building now sits behind a fence next to the cemetery.
It was cold and rainy Monday, but the ambassadors were determined not to let bad weather get in the way of their service project again.
Becky Ridgeway, faculty extension assistant for the University of Maryland Extension Office in Carroll County, said the group's original service project idea was to visit Arlington National Cemetery Dec. 14 and to lay wreaths on graves, but the visit was canceled because of poor weather conditions.
The group of 19 ambassadors, between the ages of 11 and 18, collected and donated more than $700 for Wreaths Across America but then put together their own money to buy wreaths and honor veterans locally, Ridgeway said.
Wreaths Across America's mission to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of veterans is carried out in part by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies a specified Saturday in December at Arlington, as well as at veterans' cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond, according to its website.
The Carroll County Ambassador Program is designed to select 4-H teens who demonstrate the all-around leadership ability within their community, school, 4-H program and family, according to the University of Maryland Extension website.
Noah Miller, a home-schooled 11th-grader, said even though the original project didn't work out as planned, the students still wanted to do a hands-on project to honor veterans.
The club receives a lot of support from the church and wanted to reach out to them during this hard time, he said.
"We felt it would be a good way to honor veterans and to show appreciation for all the church is doing for us and the community," Miller said.
Michelle Parrish, of Westminster, joined her son, Winters Mill High School 11th-grader Nick Parrish, for the service project Monday. Nick came up with the idea for the original project to distribute wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery.
While the group was disappointed to miss the opportunity to visit such a powerful and moving place, Parrish said she was happy the group figured out another way to honor veterans.
"It's nice to take a moment, even on a cold and rainy day, to give back," she said.
Parrish said it's tragic to see such a beautiful building, a pillar of the community, in such condition.
"They wanted to find a way that they could locally remember some of the sacrifices made," she said. "It made sense to choose this church."
Ridgeway said she is proud that the students turned a disappointing situation into something positive.
"They were able to turn it into a local project to give back," she said.

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