Wrestlers Helping Others, ECHOS March 2019

Sam Fields, far left, and those with Wrestlers Helping Others during a project at ECHOS in Elizabethtown in March 2019.

THE ISSUE: It’s Friday, the new day — after some changes and rearranging in Opinion — when we take a few moments to highlight the good news in Lancaster County and the surrounding region. Some of these items are welcome developments on the economic front or for area neighborhoods. Others are local stories of achievement, perseverance, compassion and creativity that represent welcome points of light during the third year of the sorrowful COVID-19 pandemic and with other bleak developments enveloping our nation and world. All of this uplifting news deserves a brighter spotlight.

Leading off, we applaud the efforts of Hempfield High School 11th grader Sam Fields. The student-athlete had a simple but powerful idea, as reported by LNP | LancasterOnline’s John Walk earlier this month: “Create an organization of himself and his fellow teammates to volunteer across Lancaster County year-round.”

It’s an idea that had its genesis in 2019, when Fields participated in a volunteer opportunity as an eighth grader. That event involved helping a church stage a prom-like event for people with special needs.

“After that, we were like, ‘This is a real possibility,’ ” Fields told Walk. “We could go out and have a lot of fun doing it.”

The spark of inspiration led to Wrestlers Helping Others, a student-led organization that has provided more than 300 service hours to the community over the past four years. (That number would be even higher if not for the pandemic, Walk notes.)

Over the winter, Wrestlers Helping Others collected nonperishable items and quarters to be used for laundry machines for the nonprofit Elizabethtown Community Housing and Outreach Services. It also collected socks for a nonprofit that helps deployed service members and veterans.

Most recently, the organization’s volunteers scooped, raked and laid mulch at the Building Bridges Foundation at Anderson Farm, which provides equine therapy for military veterans.

While juggling the roles of student, athlete and volunteer organizer, Fields has also managed to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. Oh, and he volunteers at LCBC Church in Manheim.

“It’s hard to find a kid his age who has his maturity,” Hempfield High School wrestling coach Shane Mack told Walk. “Typically 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds are self-absorbed ... but Sam sees outside himself.”

It’s seems only right to single out this outstanding individual, and it reminds us that there are outstanding young people doing great things all across this county.

“What we should remember is that these kids are not the exception, they’re the rule,” we wrote in a 2019 editorial. “They’re your children, your grandchildren, your neighbors’ children, the youngsters who attend your house of worship. The youth of today are as aware of the world around them as any previous generation, and they want to make it a better place.”

Of course, young people can use an assist here and there, too. That’s why we loved this week’s story about Christy and TJ Griffin, who operate The Pop-Up Shop in Lancaster city. The business, at 354 N. Queen St., has been welcoming people since the beginning of the year.

“The concept is simple — think Airbnb, but for entrepreneurs, students, teenagers, really anyone with a dream of one day owning a business or is just in the preliminary stages of figuring out how to sell their wares,” LNP | LancasterOnline’s Kevin Stairiker explained.

The Pop-Up Shop, which is 300 square feet, can be rented out for a 12-hour business day for $100; that makes it very affordable for young artists or entrepreneurs who want to dip their toes into the business world.

Keisha Finnie, who sells T-shirts and other items with her henna art, is one of many who are appreciative of the opportunity.

“I have so many followers that are always asking if I have a brick-and-mortar storefront, so it gives them the chance to come see my stuff in person and not just online,” Finnie told Stairiker. “I think it really makes a difference when you can feel something before you buy it. It’s something that a lot of people want to see from me.”

The Griffins are working to provide even more assistance to those who need a boost into a potential career. They’re “in the process of fine-tuning a business workshop for local kids and teenagers with big dreams,” Stairiker reported.

The workshop would pair local artists and business owners with those who are looking to establish themselves.

“It’s a way to help kids understand entrepreneurship, to show them that it’s a viable path,” TJ Griffin said.

What the Griffins — who both have their own careers that help make their side project of The Pop-Up Shop financially viable — are doing is incredibly laudable. It’s a wonderful investment in Lancaster’s future.

In other good things:

— Cheers to the Make-A-Wish Mother’s Day Truck Convoy, which returned in full force Sunday in Lancaster County.

“Hundreds of spectators stood along the route, waving in support of the 500 trucks blaring their horns for Make-A-Wish with the hopes of raising $600,000 for the organization,” LNP | LancasterOnline reported.

Make-A-Wish recipient Hailey Dougherty, 14, of Mount Joy, rode in the convoy’s lead truck. A crowd-pleasing appearance by Spider-Man and Pennsylvania Farm Show milkshakes were also part of the festivities.

— The recent interview with Don Groff of Lancaster’s Economic Action for Downtown’s Success made us smile.

Groff, 60, is the man “in charge of watering the nearly 300 flower baskets that hang from downtown lampposts each year,” LNP | LancasterOnline's Jenelle Janci reported.

The baskets will go up Sunday and, from then until October, Groff will work seven days a week to maintain them.

How much watering does that entail?

“Initially every night, because what happens is when we receive flowers from the grower, they’re dry, because otherwise, they’d be too heavy to hang,” Groff said. “The first month, I’m out every night.”

By every night, that means from about 10 p.m. until at least 4 a.m.

Check out Janci’s interview with Groff for his wonderful insights on going around the city in the darkness — all to make our daytime hours brighter.

— Finally, we’ve mentioned him before, but hats off (again) to the amazing Joshua Aguirre of Lebanon County, who recently became one of the youngest students in the world to test for a third-degree black belt in taekwondo.

Joshua is 10.

He has enough taekwondo medals and awards to fill a warehouse. He’s already thinking about the 2028 Olympics.

But that’s not all.

Joshua is also a driving force behind the Joshua Aguirre Foundation, which “formed in 2021 to help children from low-income families begin or continue playing sports,” LNP | LancasterOnline’s Ann Rejrat reported.

What was that we were saying about how amazing young people are?

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