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A team of volunteers works to spruce up Elmer Osborne's house

A team of volunteers works to spruce up Elmer Osborne's house Wednesday during the annual Spirit of Service event. Sponsored by Rocky Mountain Development Council, the event has helped veterans, the elderly and people with disabilities each year since 2000.

At age 85, Elmer Osborne needed help replacing the trim and painting the outside of his Helena Valley home and garage.

After suffering a back injury in 1994 and undergoing hip replacement surgery two years ago, climbing up and down ladders would have been difficult for him. 

“I could have probably done it, but it’s hard on me,” he said.

However, the team of volunteers who turned out for Wednesday’s Spirit of Service event made sure he didn’t have to.

More than 500 volunteers representing many local businesses participated in the 20th annual event -- providing yard work, painting houses, repairing decks and completing other light maintenance at 54 homes in the Helena area.

Sponsored by Rocky Mountain Development Council, the event has helped veterans, the elderly and people with disabilities each year since 2000. Organizers received about 70 applications this year, and the houses that the volunteers couldn’t get to will be added to next year’s list.

At Osborne’s home, eight young people from YouthBuild and about 15 employees from Anderson ZurMuehlen completed all of the painting and trim work and even helped the homeowner transplant the flowers he had been growing in his backyard greenhouse.

“They’re doing a good job,” Osborne said, noting that it had been about 20 years since his home last received a fresh coat of paint. “It’s going to look nice when they’re through.”

Anderson ZurMuehlen CEO Don Laine said the company sent additional staff to help at three other Helena-area homes Wednesday, and about 90 of his employees participated this year. 

“Part of our mission is to give back to our community, and we enjoy it,” he said. “It’s a good time.”

While the project was considered a regular workday for employees of Anderson ZurMuehlen and other firms, some of the volunteers used vacation time to participate. 

Home Depot donated a variety of supplies, including paint rollers, leaf blowers, trimmers and gloves, and Power Townsend and Valspar donated about $3,600 worth of paint.

The volunteers ended the day with a barbecue at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds.

“We’re really lucky with the weather this year,” RMDC Operations Director Kathy Marks said under Wednesday’s sunny skies. “We’ve had some nasty ones.”

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