Meritus Health partners with local United Way for donation

HAGERSTOWN, Md. -- Each year, Meritus Health uses donations to take care of the community’s needs. Some things are obvious – community health services and charity care, for example.

During the 2021 fiscal year, Meritus Health contributed more than $57M in benefits for the community.

However, there are some things that are not so obvious.

Sitting in a parking lot at Meritus Health, was a 2007 Ford Freestar van in need of a home. Or rather, in need of a job.

At one time, the van was used to transport employees to various other Meritus locations. Although its service was no longer needed, it wasn’t quite time for retirement.

“No one needed the van any longer, and we knew it still had a purpose left to serve the community,” said Chris Austin, Environmental Services Manager at Meritus Health.

For over a year, the van had been sitting idle, out of a job and no longer needed with Austin’s team.

During that same time period, a network of staff and volunteers with the United Way of Washington County were working to get essential items distributed throughout the county. This included 180,000 pounds of food, 1,500 books and 800 gallons of milk.

President and CEO, Heather Guessford, explained that transporting those donations meant her staff and volunteers were using their personal vehicles to get things where they needed to go.

“You really don’t want that much milk to spill in your truck,” she laughed.

It was through a community partnership between the two nonprofits, that Guessford’s staff and volunteers won’t have to worry about spilled milk anymore.

“The United Way has eagerly accepted our donation,” Austin said of the van.

The transfer process involved various departments within Meritus Health, including guidance from the purchasing and legal departments.

“My next stop is the DMV,” Guessford said, as Austin handed over the keys.

Meritus Health is proud to partner with other community organizations and nonprofits who represent our neighbors, friends and family in Washington County and beyond. For more details on healthcare services, and other happenings at Meritus, visit