By LINDA M. LINONIS
The grand old flag flies high in East Palestine, where Centenary United Methodist Church is sponsoring a fundraiser with a patriotic point.
Michele Hoffmeister, co-chairman of the flag-leasing committee, said the venture has been well-received. “The feedback has been heart-warming,” she said.
For a fee of $25, the committee will hoist a 3-by-5-foot American flag in a customer’s yard for the five patriotic holidays of Memorial Day in May, Flag Day in June, the Fourth of July, Labor Day in September and Veterans Day in November. The “star-spangled banners” go up about a week before the holiday and stay up a week after.
The committee is offering a “special.” For $35, people will get the next two holidays of Labor Day and Veterans Day this year and the five holidays in 2013.
Hoffmeister also suggested leasing a flag in honor or memory of a veteran. For those unable to put up a flag on their own, the flag leasing provides a service.
Barb Webb, who handles the phone calls, said the project is in its first year,P and the committee plans to continue it.
“I’ve got a lot of calls saying how nice the flags look,” she said. That’s especially the case in neighborhoods where multiple houses fly the red, white and blue and the picture truly is “America, the Beautiful.”
Webb said she believed 9/11 and the aftermath of the war on terror has made people more aware. “It woke up a lot of people,” she said. “People are more interested in flying a flag and showing their patriotism.”
Webb described the flag leasing as “a subscription.”
Hoffmeister said veterans have thanked the church group.
“They’re thanking us when it’s the vets in our country we all should be thanking,” she said. “Without them and their sacrifices, we wouldn’t have this American way of life.”
A bonus, she added, is talking to veterans.
Hoffmeister said the committee has orders for 160 flags so far. She noted since the project has been successful in East Palestine, the committee is expanding to Unity Township. Orders continue to come in.
Since it’s the first year, Hoffmeister and Webb said proceeds will be limited, but they expect more of a profit next year. Those funds, Hoffmeister said, are earmarked for outreach programs in the community. She said she feels the flag project itself is an outreach.
“We’ll determine where the needs are in the community,” Hoffmeister said, adding funds will benefit outreach ministries in East Palestine and Unity Township.
Installation of flags is the task of Kent and Cindy Duncan and David Mollenkopf. They put in a special pipe about 12 inches into the ground, which is the anchor for the 10-foot staff for the flag. The staff can easily be removed when grass is being mowed; the pipe is flush with the ground. There’s also a cap for the pipe when it’s not in use.
Also on the flag-leasing committee are Michele Hoffmeister’s husband, Clyde; Barb Webb’s husband, Bill; and Roberta Rohm.
“We all have our jobs to do,” Barb Webb said. The Duncans’ daughters, Emily and Kelliann, do the mapping and plot where flags are located at individual sites.