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Seniors find freebies and info at fair

May 10, 2000|By TARA REILLY

While some came for the information on retirement and health care plans, others showed up for the social benefits of the occasion.

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Others said they attended the Senior Fair Wednesday at the Ramada Inn in Hagerstown for the free gifts.

More than 90 businesses set up booths at the Eighth Annual Senior Fair, offering anything from informational pamphlets to keychain lights, pill boxes, magnifying bookmarks and pens.

About 2,500 senior citizens attended the fair sponsored by the Washington County Commission on Aging, Hagerstown Trust Co. and Robinwood Medical Center.

"It's nice that they're doing something for the senior citizens," Evelyn Funk of Hagerstown said. "I've been here before, and I enjoy meeting the people. I also come for the information that is here that you wouldn't even know about."

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A popular vendor at the fair was Green Thumb Inc., a nonprofit organization that hires and trains seniors to work at full- and part-time community service jobs.

Through Green Thumb, older residents could care for children and the elderly, tutor students, operate computers, landscape public grounds, teach skilled trades and crafts and work as clerks, librarians, receptionists and mechanics.

Dr. Mark Teunis offered free glaucoma screenings, while other health care providers offered free hearing and blood pressure screenings.

Hagerstown Community College personnel were on hand to provide information on its Older Adult Learning Programs, including courses on the French and Indian War and the Maryland Campaign of the Civil War. A watercolor painting class is also offered.

Another vendor, Washington County Behavioral Health Services, provided handouts that offered information on how seniors can boost their self-esteem and beat stress.

Other attractions for seniors included meeting the Hagerstown Suns' mascot, Jay Jay, receiving autographs from a few Suns' players and getting pictures taken with State Farm Insurance's Good Neigh-Bear mascot.

"I come every year," Alice Bick of Hagerstown said. "It's really nice." Bick said her favorite part of the fair was winning a stuffed teddy bear in a raffle.

This was the first year Gilbert Noll, 65, of Hagerstown attended the fair, but he said he will come back next year.

"There's lots of information here," Noll said. "It's great for people our age and up."

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