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Editorial: Thumbs up to farming community, a real-life Santa and the Marine mom's project

THUMBS UP: Several members of the local farming community deserve a little extra recognition. Donna Myers, of New Windsor, was recently elected president of the Maryland State Fair and Agricultural Society Inc.’s board of directors.

Donna Myers, of New Windsor, was recently elected president of the Maryland State Fair and Agricultural Society Inc.'s board of directors.

“4-H was an important part of my life, my children’s lives and now my grandchildren’s lives,” Myers told us. “It’s kind of a natural progression to give my time and to give back to make sure these programs can continue for other generations.” Myers is the first female president of the organization, which incorporated in 1878. Up the road in Union Bridge, Cow Comfort Inn Dairy will be featured on the Maryland Public Television show “Maryland Farm & Harvest” on Jan. 2 as a result of making great use of technology.

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At Cow Comfort Inn Dairy in Union Bridge technology plays a large part in the cows’ well-being and those tools will be featured on Maryland Public Television's “Maryland Farm & Harvest” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2.

Katie Dotterer-Pyle and her husband, David, care for some 500 cows, milking 350. Dotterer-Pyle has electronic files on each of her cows which includes their birthdays, lineage, how many calves they’ve had and their medical records. Every cow also has a pedometer that tracks how much milk she produces each shift and her average daily steps. Before that show airs, Richfield Farm, of Manchester, will be featured on “Maryland Farm & Harvest,” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 26. According to owner Ian Seletzky, the episode shows how he markets vegetables for wholesale at the Maryland Produce Hub in Jessup. Meanwhile, Mays Farming, of Upperco, recently received an award for its cutting-edge conservation and sustainability. Mays Farming was one of 12 farms honored at the Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN Farmer Recognition and Innovation Summit on Dec. 3-5. “It’s an opportunity to promote agriculture in a positive way,” owner Toby Mays told us, noting that he plants half of his 2,500 acres in cover crops every year and that cover crops allow farmers to use less fertilizer as their organic matter in the soil increases.

For over a decade, Scott Melville, of Hampstead, has become a Santa Claus, bringing gifts to children spending the holidays at the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

THUMBS UP: It’s hard to imagine anyone embodying the spirit of the season more than Hampstead’s Scott Melville, who distributes toys to kids going through a difficult time. For more than a decade, Melville has become a Santa Claus for children in need, putting together a toy drive in recent years and then distributing the toys to children spending the holidays at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, a Baltimore hospital dedicated to disorders of the brain, spinal cord and musculoskeletal system. He even dresses the part of Santa and enlists numerous elves, some from the Manchester Valley High School football team. Melville said the number of toys has grown every year, with more than several hundred donated this year. Melville said he and his helpers get as much, or more, out of the gift-giving as the kids. “A lot of times, we don’t know how good we’ve got it,” Melville told us. “The toys are great because a lot of these kids don’t get a lot, but it’s really all about the experience for the players and the kids. The children are so excited to see someone come down and spend some quality time with them.”

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Geigan learned that United States Marines in Afghanistan were sleeping on the ground with rocks as pillows, no access to showers, and using baby wipes to clean up. Her heart propelled her to send a care package with pillows, snacks and personal care items. Then she sent another. And another.

THUMBS UP: Doing for others is something Dawn Geigan knows a bit about. The mother of a Marine, Geigan was inspired earlier this year to begin sending packages to our service members overseas. She calls what she does the We’ve Got Your Back Care Project. She has received a lot of help from friends, neighbors, family members and some local organizations and businesses as she spearheaded a shipment of 46 boxes in July, 60 in August, 75 for Thanksgiving and, most recently, 148 for Christmas. Among the items in the latest shipment were 2,000 cookies made and boxed to send by the Busy Bee Quilters. Geigan said each box says, “Small town America has your back. Coming to you from Westminster, Maryland.” She said the hours and hours they’ve spent getting the We’ve Got Your Back Care Project off the ground are well worth it. “When you see somebody over there who is sacrificing time away from their family and loved ones, sleeping in the dirt with sandstorms around them and they are considered fortunate if they just have a tent — if that were my son I would want to make it better for them,” she told us.

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