When Leona Scarton was growing up in her coal-mining town of Bretz, WV, where life was a struggle, she dreamed of better things not only for herself and her family. When her four children graduated and left home, she began her service as a community volunteer.
The old school house where her children went to elementary school had been abandoned—windows broken, ceiling leaking—vandals destroyed everything. Scarton helped organize a team, which renovated the school building and help community events in it. A mini thrift shop was established to clothe children; children’s activities and parties were promoted. Scarton continues to help the needy families with food, babysitting, and transportation.
Having earned her GED at the age of 65, she recognizes the importance of education and strives to help the youngsters in her deprived community by encouraging children and giving them books.
Despite her lack of formal training, Scarton excels in fundraising for community organizations, especially the Valley Ambulance Association, where she serves as a board member. To help the ambulance squad purchase equipment for her small unincorporated coal-mining town, she almost always sells the most tickets for car raffles. She doesn’t even hesitate to stand by treacherous red lights with her collection box, knowing the money will be donated to a good cause.
Parties and projects for frail elderly, benefits for the fire department, recycling cards for the Children’s Ranch, sending children to camp, mailing thousands of birthday and get-well cards, all at her own expense, are other outlets for Scarton’s compassion, concern, and love.
A 4-H leader for 34 years working with the youth of Preston County, she has also served as a member of the West Virginia Deputy Sheriff’s Association. As a member West Virginia Community Educational Outreach Service for 27 years, the endless source of energy for her community has relished her President, Vice-President, and various committee positions. Not having been blessed with opportunities to travel, she nonetheless gathers information from countries all over the world and, as Continuing Education Chairman, educates and demonstrates.
Scarton’s church recently honored her for 40 consecutive years of service teaching bible school to youngsters. In 1991, Scarton was one of seven honored at the Celebrate Women Awards presentation at the West Virginia State Capitol Conference Center for her work at Hopemont Hospital, visiting patients and directing patient activities. Every patient at the hospital receives a card from Scarton.