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Teen working to earn money for trip down under this summer


Thirteen-year-old Jennifer VanSant is willing to baby-sit, wash cars, help with housework, sell pizzas and market restaurant gift certificates to reach her goal on the other side of the world.

Jennifer, the daughter of Duke and Betsy VanSant of Mount Airy, has the opportunity to travel to Australia and New Zealand this summer as a member of the People to People Student Ambassador Program.

As one of 49 teen-agers selected for the Maryland delegation, she will: explore native villages; snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef; hand-feed kangaroos, koalas and emus; attend an official briefing at the Australian Parliament in Canberra; visit the world's biggest geothermal power plant in New Zealand; and hike to an abandoned gold mine in North Island's forest.

Jennifer also will experience Aussie and Kiwi hospitality during TTC home stays with two host families for the three-week trip.

She has the chance to earn three high school credits for her well-chaperoned and well-planned trek.

The only drawback of this fantastic opportunity is the cost -- $4,200 plus spending money and round-trip airfare to Los Angeles.

Her father, a librarian at Howard High School, said, "We hope she can raise $1,000." He said the family will make up the difference.

Jennifer had raised $172 as of Wednesday evening.

She declined to quote an hourly wage she charges for her services but said she has completed an American Red Cross baby-sitting class.

She said she prefers that her customers donate whatever they think is fair.

She said she wants to raise money for her trip "in a way that makes people happy. I'm flexible, I don't want to be pushy."

Steve Isemann, owner of Stefano's Restaurant in Mount Airy, is working with Jennifer to help her sell his line of gourmet pizzas and gift certificates to his South Main Street eatery.

The People to People Student Ambassador program was started in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to promote world peace by allowing young Americans to become friends with people from other countries.

It became a private, nonprofit organization in 1961.

Jennifer thinks the adventure began with a recommendation from her friend, Jamie Prather, who participated in the program last year. Jennifer was accepted into the program after submitting an application and three letters of reference, and being interviewed.

Jennifer will attend monthly classes about the culture and history of Australia and New Zealand through June. She will be required to keep a journal during the trip and write a two-page essay when she returns.

The historian of the Mount Airy Clovers 4-H Club, Jennifer is president of the junior high United Methodist Youth Fellowship at Calvary United Methodist Church in Mount Airy.

An honor roll student at Mount Airy Middle, she enjoys singing in the school chorus and church choir, as well as playing basketball and swimming.

The seventh-grader said she is looking forward to being a student ambassador. "If you really want something a lot and try, you can do it."

If you would like to help Jennifer earn money for her trip, call (301) 829-1116.


Mount Airy's Lions Club paused Tuesday night to show its appreciation to volunteers who have helped club members in their mission of community service.

The organization paid tribute to Tfc. Ed Muller, of the Maryland State Police, for his dedication to the club and to Mount Airy during his seven-year tenure as the town's resident trooper. Trooper Muller recently was transferred to a position at the Westminster barracks.

Bob Disinger, who presented a plaque, said the trooper has always been willing to arrange his schedule during the annual June carnival and other club activities. "You could always call Ed to help out," he said.

Walt and Nina Dennison, owners of Dennison's Trackside Hobbies in Mount Airy, also were honored with a plaque for their years of assistance.

From helping with club fund-raisers at the yearly Fall Festival to providing a model train display at the Lion's Santa Claus Lane, "they have always supported our activities," Mr. Disinger said. The Dennisons are moving to Berlin on the Eastern Shore in April.

Herbert Stenger, a dedicated "engineer" at the Santa Claus Lane annual model train display, was honored by the Lions with a certificate of appreciation for his many hours of volunteer service.

A certificate of appreciation to U.S. Marine Corps League Detachment 770 also was presented to Cmdr. Dominic J. Naples Sr. in honor of the group's Toys for Tots donation to the Lion's 1994 Christmas baskets.

Mount Airy Lions Club welcomes help with club projects and membership inquiries. For information, call (301) 829-LION.


Just-like-Grandma-used-to-make turkey dressing and fried oysters are two attractions at the annual spring suppers sponsored by Mount Airy Fire Company.

The first turkey, ham and oyster fund-raising feast of 1995 will be held Sunday, beginning at noon at the Firemen's Activity Building on Twin Arch Road and Route 27.

The all-you-can-eat fare costs $9 for adults, $4.50 for children 5 to 12 years old, and is free for younger children. Carryouts are 50 cents extra and a bake table will be featured.

The next super supper will be April 2.

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