Bush visits homeless shelter to encourage Americans to perform volunteer work - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Bush visits homeless shelter to encourage Americans to perform volunteer work

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ President Bush joined homeless toddlers in singing ``Itsy Bitsy Spider'' on Tuesday before offering a bit of incentive to volunteers: a diary in which to log the hours and rewards of community service.

``I can't think of anything more interesting than a mom or dad volunteering, recording his or her thoughts, giving it to a child, who gives it to a grandchild,'' said Bush.

Bush, visiting the politically important Pennsylvania for the tenth time in his year-old presidency, also gave his Cabinet 30 days to find _ and make plans to eradicate _ any regulatory or other barriers to community service within federal agencies.

At the People's Emergency Center, a shelter for homeless women, teens and children, teacher Khalil Shearlds invited the president to join a dozen volunteers, parents and small children in singing ``Itsy Bitsy Spider.''

Bush did, complete with hand gestures illustrating a wee spider's climb up the water spout.

``One of my favorites,'' Bush said, grinning. ``The only one I remember.''

On stage at the nearby Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the White House had assembled seven local volunteers for an informal discussion with the president about the value of service _ especially at a time when America is at war with terrorists.

``Sacrifice is beginning to become apparent to many who never thought they would have to sacrifice. There is a new culture evolving in the country,'' Bush said. ''... And that is that there's something greater than yourself in life, and it's worth serving.''

Elaine Lander described her Peace Corps service in Nepal and said she now serves the mentally ill as a nurse practitioner while volunteering weekends with the Red Cross.

Bush called her ``the Energizer Bunny when it comes to helping people.''

In his Jan. 29 State of the Union Address, the president challenged every American to give 4,000 hours of volunteer time in places like the shelter he visited here.

The USA Freedom Corps, which he created to organize the hoped-for hordes of new volunteers, began offering on Tuesday a ``Record of Service'' in which people can keep track of their donated hours, either through a password-protected online account or in a printed notebook.

Each page of the spiral-bound journal, available for a nominal fee by calling 1-877-USA-CORPS, features an inspirational messages from the likes of Cicero, Shakespeare and Bill Clinton.

``This is a good opportunity to bring a little discipline into your volunteer service,'' Bush said. ``When I look at this _ I envisioned an interesting diary that can be passed from one generation to the next.''

Congress has yet to approve any of the funds for the massive volunteerism initiative, in which Bush envisions recruiting more than 200,000 new volunteers for U.S.-based service programs and doubling the number of Peace Corps workers abroad.

Bush is plugging ahead one piece at a time. He unveiled Tuesday's noncontroversial installment in the state offering the nation's fifth-largest electoral prize, a state he lost to Al Gore in the 2000 campaign. Bush was on Pennsylvania soil for little more than two hours Tuesday before returning to Washington.

Back at the White House, he met privately with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, then posed for photos with college sports champions. He was scheduled to duck around the corner to Constitution Hall at dinnertime for a fund-raiser benefiting House Speaker Dennis Hastert's drive to keep a Republican majority in the House. The event was expected to raise $400,000.
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