PHILIPSBURG — Philipsburg Revitalization Corporation (PRC) Events Coordinator Faith Maguire was preparing decorations downtown, as she often does, when something sweet and surprising happened. A group of three middle-school boys on bikes stopped by to see what Maguire was up to.
“They said something about nothing being downtown,” Maguire recalled, “and I told them, ‘Actually no, it’s all changing.’”
The PRC purchased two blighted and abutting buildings in Philipsburg’s historic district on Front Street and has been working to renovate the properties to house a community arts space, a business incubation center, a headquarters for the PRC and some affordable housing units upstairs.
The project is a big one, but the PRC has been making strides with a resourceful team of spunky volunteers. The organization has raised more than $60,000 so far, and a large thermometer displayed in a window of one of the buildings shows the group’s fundraising progress.
“I showed (the boys) what the building is going to be, and I can’t even tell you how captivated they were,” Maguire said. “They were really into it.”
Maguire told the boys — Brodey Davis, Drake Taylor and Dorian Lannen — she was always looking for volunteers, and they said they’d like to help. Maguire walked the boys out and returned to the building for some more art supplies. When she returned to her project table, she found a $5 bill.
“I wondered, ‘Where did that $5 come from?’” Maguire said. “I was just painting. Did I set that money down? Then I looked down the street, and the kids were riding their bikes down the street.”
Maguire called to the boys, who returned.
“I asked them if they put the $5 there, and they said ‘Yes, we wanted to make a donation,’” said Maguire. “They saw the big thermometer sign — that we were collecting money. It warmed my heart like no other. I felt like the Grinch suddenly — his heart burst. It just felt so big. I was trying not to tear up. These kids were giving me money and were willing to help. They went one step further.
“I told them, ‘You are some of the first real investors in this building,’” Maguire continued. “‘You are in the 10 percent who has invested in this building. Ninety percent of people have not even thought about giving $5. I am seriously framing that $5 bill and putting it in the building, and in 15 or 20 years from now, I want those boys to come back and be able to say, ‘That is my $5 bill.’”
Maguire said the incident reminded her of a grand Christmas celebration she organized a few years ago. In the middle of the festivities, her granddaughter hugged her and thanked her for everything she did for the town.
“That is what I was put on this earth for,” Maguire said.