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Christmas lights a win-WIN

December 18, 2000

Christmas lights a win-WIN



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

WIN Victim ServicesFAYETTEVILLE, Pa. - More than 1,000 Christmas trees of all shapes and sizes adorned with angels, colorful balls and lights attracted hundreds of visitors to the Ragged Edge Inn Sunday night.

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Innkeeper Darlene Elders has opened up the bed and breakfast for tours one Sunday before Christmas for the last six years, and every year people flock back for the chance to tour the historic inn.

The tours are free, but donations for the Women in Need Victim Services of Franklin and Fulton counties are encouraged.

Elders suggested the annual fund-raiser after opening the inn, 1090 Ragged Edge Road, in 1993, to give back to the organization that helped her.

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"I used WIN services, so I though this would be a nice way to repay them. They were very beneficial to me," she said.

WIN offers a 24-hour hotline, individual and group counseling, emergency shelter for battered women and their children and court and medical accompaniment for victims of violence.

Despite the fact people were already lined up on the inn's wrap-around porch at 6 p.m., Elders said she could tell numbers would be down this year, probably because of the weather.

Last year 800 to 1,000 people toured the 10 suites and donated more than $2,000 to WIN.

"People are so intrigued and curious they come back and back and back" said Celeste Snavely, WIN volunteer services coordinator.

The inn was built at the turn of the 19th century by the president of the Cumberland Valley Railroad, Moorehead C. Kennedy, and completed in 1913.

Kennedy and his wife entertained frequently, often 100 to 200 people at a time in the 13,000 square-foot home.

Elders restored the home and opened it as a bed and breakfast in 1993 with the theme "Everyday is Christmas."

She keeps it decorated year round with Christmas trees in every room, garland strung along the wooden staircase and angels on the walls.

At Christmas, she adds even more to the decorations and lights the trees and candles.

"This time of year is about giving and caring. I am hoping this tour will help people get in touch with Christmas feelings," Elders said. "We all need to help others less fortunate than ourselves."

The display included 26 years of collections of everything from antiques to dolls to Christmas ornaments, Santas and more than 1,000 Christmas trees.

Visitors were enthralled with the extent of the decorations and the general historical ambiance of the inn itself.

Bonnie and Daniel Flohr and their son, Omeca, drove about 45 minutes from Mount Holly Springs to attend the open house.

"Our daughter had gotten us a gift certificate so we've stayed here, but we wanted to come back and see it all lit up for Christmas," Bonnie Flohr said.

It also drew the curious who lived nearby but had never done more than pass by.

"I drive by all the time and I've always wanted to see the inside," said Dianne Hetrick of Chambersburg.

While visitors mainly were interested in the decorations, their contributions will help WIN continue its programs in the future to aid victims of domestic violence, child sexual abuse, sexual assault and harassment, families of homicide victims or witnesses to violence.

"We help victims and families heal from the trauma violence creates in our lives," said Director Barbara Channing.

In 1999-2000, WIN staff and volunteers fielded 3,000 calls to its hotline regarding domestic violence incidents, 910 calls about crimes of a sexual nature and more than 1,000 calls for help regarding other crimes, information or referrals.

In addition, its 16-bed shelter for women and children in Chambersburg was at capacity for most of the year, offering up to 30 days shelter for 66 women and 75 children, according to its annual report.

WIN Victim Services may be contacted at 717-264-3056, 800-621-6660 or at wins@awinservices.org.

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