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Event raises $16,000 for Hospice

July 25, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

An airplane ride, piano tuning and yoga sessions were among the items auctioned Sunday at Hospice of Washington County's 15th annual Taste of the Town.

The event is hospice's largest fund-raiser and features a variety of dishes from area restaurants, eateries and food companies. This year, 18 vendors served from tables lining the walls of the Ramada Inn Grand Ballroom.

"Anything for charity," said Patrick Sims, the Ramada's food service director. An ice sculpture swan glinted on the table as he offered Bananas Foster crepes to passing patrons. "It's a good cause and it's fun," he said.

Established in 1981, Hospice of Washington County is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to comfort and support terminally-ill patients. About 75 percent of its patients have been diagnosed with cancer but hospice serves all ages and ailments.

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Taste of the Town is an opportunity for people to sample food from diverse sources, bid on unique items and contribute to the hospice cause. Individual tickets are $25 and tables of 10 can be purchased for $200.

"It's an excellent opportunity to reach out to those who need help," said Chris Shaffer while she waited in line with her husband, Bill. The Hagerstown resident said she has friends involved with hospice.

Some of those who attended the event had a personal connection to the organization. "I had cancer six years ago so I like to give to hospice," said Sharon Horn. She and Tom Test said they have been coming to Taste for four years.

"We always get a whole table and invite friends," Horn said.

Last year, the event did not include and auction and raised about $13,000, according to Executive Assistant Mary Reid. She said about 450 tickets were sold this year, bringing in about $8,000. Reid expected the auction to raise another $7,000 or more.

John Compton, president of the hospice board of directors, served as auctioneer for this year's event. The items included an Easter trip to the Polynesian Isles Resort in Orlando, Fla. as well as jewelry from Thailand, an Oriental rug and box seat tickets for the Orioles.

"We try to get some unique things with a wide range of costs," said Executive Director Susan Taylor. Proceeds from the event offset cost of care for poor patients or those without insurance, she said.

Conversation filled the ballroom where a grid of round tables ringed with diners stood. The names of sponsors and donors appeared on signs above each table.

Vendors donate their time and food while companies such as Allegheny Power contribute to offset the rental cost of the ballroom. "It's a lot of fun and a lot of food," said Victoria Shaff, who works for the utility company.

"Almost every family will need hospice or be in touch with them for services," said Midge Teahan, also an Allegheny employee. "They're just invaluable," she said.

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