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Reaching out a way of life for Upper Burrell couple

| Monday, April 8, 2013, 10:15 a.m.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Betty and Bill Beestrice pose with a few of the large number of Easter games they recently used for children activities in Upper Burrell Township. Photographed on Friday, April 5, 2013.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Bill Beestrice at his home in Upper Burrell Township on Friday, April 5, 2013.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Betty Beestrice at his home in Upper Burrell Township on Friday, April 5, 2013.

For Betty and Bill Beestrice, giving back has taken many forms over the years.

The Upper Burrell couple may be familiar to those in the township as organizers of regular holiday parties for young and old.

Both retired from PPG, they have put together Easter and Halloween parties for the township's children and Christmas parties for its seniors for close to a decade.

And that wouldn't be the only reason they may be familiar to many.

For nearly 50 years, they were deeply involved as volunteers with the Shamrocks drum and baton corps.

They estimate that several thousand local kids were involved with the group, which not only performed in local parades, but traveled and competed across the nation.

“It was a very good organization,” Betty Beestrice said. “We even helped other corps.”

The couple's two daughters even were involved, starting from the time they were little. When they were older, they served as Shamrocks instructors.

The group disbanded about 10 years ago, but its members still remember their time with Shamrocks, as well as the Beestrices. Some of them, Bill Beetrice noted, even say it was among the best times of their lives.

Providing fun and camaraderie for those in the township is now the Beestrices' primary way of reaching out. They do so several times a year, to the delight of many in the rural community.

“Even before they are done preparing for their current event, they are working on planning the next one,” said township manager Amy Rockwell.

“They volunteer many hours of their time in planning and preparing.

While many organizations are losing volunteers, we are very lucky to have the Beestrices, who continue to do this for the township.”

Among their planning and preparations are efforts to come up with creative games for the children's events for Easter and Halloween and securing donations for prizes to give away at the seniors' Christmas luncheon.

Bill Beestrice estimates they put hundreds of miles on their car in search of donations like free oil changes and even trips from local travel agencies for the senior luncheon.

As with Shamrocks before, the Beestrices' daughters pitch in to help mom and dad.

The children's events attract well over 50 partygoers, while about 90 attend the seniors' Christmas event.

With activities like “Hippity Hop Hunt,” “Daffy Duck Pond” and “Jumpin' Jelly Beans,” the Easter party was the Beestrices' most recent Upper Burrell event.

Bill Beestrice credits his wife with being the creative mastermind.

She gives him props, too.

Motioning around their living room, she noted that when it's filled with items for a party, her husband is happy to load up the car and take everything to the township building where the events are held “whether he has to make five trips, or 10.”

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