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Charities get $1 million from tip jars

September 09, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

The Washington County Gaming Commission approved the distribution of a record $1 million in tip jar gambling profits to charity on Tuesday.

About $648,000 went to nonprofit groups in the county and about $400,000 went to the Washington County Fire and Rescue Association.

The amount of money going into the gaming fund has been increasing steadily since the county began regulating tip jars in July 1995.

But so have the requests for the money, said gaming panel Chairman Fred Rohrer.

This time, the commission sorted through $1.5 million in proposals.

"They think there's no bottom to the well," Rohrer said.

Since the county began regulating tip jar gambling in July 1995, the gaming commission has distributed $4.2 million to charity.

In Tuesday's distribution, the largest single grant, $53,000, went to Food Resources.

"We're just thrilled because it puts us in a position to move forward with construction on a new warehouse," said Executive Director Brad Sell.

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Food Resources, which supplies county food pantries, is building a 10,000-square-foot warehouse off Hump Road, he said.

The nonprofit organization will increase its storage space by about 2,000-square-feet by moving from Eldridge Drive in Hagerstown, Sell said.

Cost of construction is $355,000, he said.

The Community Free Clinic on West Franklin Street in Hagerstown got $50,000.

"I'm delighted, said Executive Director Shelby Higgins.

The grant will pay for laboratory costs and personnel for six months, she said.

Higgins had asked for an additional $45,000 to increase health services at the clinic, but the request was turned down.

Fraternal, civic and veterans clubs in the county are required to donate 15 percent of their gross gaming proceeds to charity through the gaming commission. Bars and taverns that sell jars must donate half of their gaming proceeds.

The gaming commission distributes tip jar profits twice a year.

By law, 40 percent goes to the Washington County Fire and Rescue Association.

Each of the seven gaming commission members spends about 40 hours deciding how to divvy the other 60 percent, Rohrer said.

"I was very impressed with the way the majority of the applicants was organized. That's an important part of this whole thing," said gaming commission member Camille Hendrickson.

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