Tessa Sheridan just hated to leave it in the car. But she couldn't let the mulch and dirt dull the twinkle of her new engagement ring.

"It absolutely has to keep its shine - just for when I show it off," she said, striking a glamorous pose. The Gettysburg College junior spoke of diamonds while standing in a plot of dirt. Mulch blackened her knees and fingernails.

On a typical day, she said, she'd be sunbathing right now. Or maybe studying statistics.

Sheridan was among the sisters of the Tri Sigma sorority who spent Thursday afternoon gardening for charity. The sorority auctioned 20 hours of labor to benefit Project Gettysburg-Leon, a sister-city program with the Nicaraguan city.

   Vegetables were planted Thursday by members of the Tri Sigma sorority at Gettysburg College. About eight sorority sisters worked as part of a fundraiser

Vegetables were planted Thursday by members of the Tri Sigma sorority at Gettysburg College. About eight sorority sisters worked as part of a fundraiser to aid the city of León, Nicaragua.

(THE EVENING SUN BRETT BERWAGER)

They gardened with gold-glittering sneakers and pink-painted nails. One wore a white skirt.

The garden was just north of Gettysburg at Red Hill Corp., a company that sells sandpaper from its warehouse at 1540 Biglerville Road.

Company president Arturo Ottolenghi and his friend Eric Falk watched as their gardens were weeded, watered and planted.

"Look at those poor girls working hard in the sun," Falk said with a laugh.

The two men did help tend the unruly blackberry bush and dig holes for 18 different tomato varieties.

"We're both business people trying to find enjoyment as part-time farmers," Falk explained.

Victoria Fievre, who wore the gold-glittering sneakers, grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y.


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, where, she said, there's less opportunity to develop a green thumb. She remembers when she was a child, her grandmother tending tomatoes in the back yard.

"I didn't help much," she confessed. "I'd be like, 'You go, grandma!'"

Also from New York City was Amanda Kreuter, who planted the squash and zucchini.

"They could be the same thing, right? Green squash and zucchini?" she asked of her fellow gardeners.

The sorority performs hundreds of hours of volunteer work each year. The sisters also help out at local animal shelters and food banks, said sorority president Riley Walker, a junior at Gettysburg College.

"I feel there's a rift between the college and town," she said. "So it's satisfying to volunteer in the community and fix that gap."

Mostly the afternoon of gardening was filled with laughs. It proved an escape from the long hours of studying for final exams next week.

"I love this. Garden-fresh vegetables taste so much better than store-bought," Sheridan said. "I've even learned new things today."

Between plantings, Sheridan gossiped about her recent engagement. Everything went wrong, she said with a laugh. The restaurant was crowded. Her boyfriend had to propose outside on the curb.

  From left, Victoria Fievre, Tara Lacy and Amanda Kreuter plant vegetables at a garden just north of Gettysburg. The college sorority sisters worked to

From left, Victoria Fievre, Tara Lacy and Amanda Kreuter plant vegetables at a garden just north of Gettysburg. The college sorority sisters worked to raise money for development projects in the poverty-stricken city of Leon, Nicaragua.

(THE EVENING SUN BRETT BERWAGER)

"He had all these plans, and nothing happened the way it was supposed to," she said. "But it was adorable. He was so cute."

When finished, the sisters brushed off the dirt and prepared to leave. Megan Bailey eyed her hands with regret. Her nails painted with pink and purple flowers were chipped and dirty.

"These were expensive nails," she said.

Sheridan cheered her up.

"Look at it this way," she said. "At least you got a tan."

ABOUT PROJECT GETTYSBURG-LEON

Project Gettysburg-Leon is a partnership between the borough of Gettysburg, Gettysburg College, and communities in and around the city of León, Nicaragua. The partnership supports sustainable development projects in León and promotes friendship, education and cultural exchange between the two communities.

Each year PGL holds an auction to raise money for its humanitarian aid efforts. For more information visit www.gettysburg-leon.org.