Gum ball machines help to pay for luncheons at hospital

February 12, 2002

Gum ball machines help to pay for luncheons at hospital


Jack and Bea Goldman do good deeds with gum balls at Western Maryland Hospital Center in Hagerstown.

For five years, the Goldmans have hosted catered luncheons for about 60 patients and volunteers at the chronic care hospital that's been home to their daughter, Carol, for more than two decades.

The Wheaton, Md., couple throws the $700 lunch parties four times a year, funding them primarily with profits from the gum ball machines they installed at the hospital center about 15 years ago.

Hospital resident Bennie Wagner enjoyed the fried chicken, meatballs, shrimp cocktail and other treats served at the latest luncheon last Wednesday. He smiled when Jack Goldman, 86, grabbed a microphone and crooned some oldies to entertain the crowd.


"It doesn't matter what kind of food they have. It's just that it's different," Wagner said.

Savoy Catering of Waynesboro, Pa., has provided entrees ranging from lobster and baked oysters to spare ribs and country ham, said Linn Hendershot, communications director at the hospital center on Pennyslvania Avenue in Hagerstown.

"They bring in the types of foods you wouldn't usually see in a hospital. The patients love it," Hendershot said.

Jack and Bea Goldman said they figured offering a variety of dishes to patients would be about the best thing they could do for them.

"When they come up afterwards and thank you, it feels so good," said Bea Goldman, 82.

"I get the biggest thrill out of doing it," her husband said.

"Our daughter has a home so it works both ways," Bea Goldman said.

Carol Goldman, 50, was born with brain damage. She was transferred to the Western Maryland Hospital Center after falling at a residential care facility in New York, her father said.

Carol was in a coma for two weeks and didn't speak for 22 years. Her parents, who have visited her twice a week since her hospitalization, said she began speaking again a few years ago.

The Goldmans said they wanted to show their appreciation for the care Carol receives. Jack Goldman thought gum balls might give them the means to do so.

Retired from the vending business, Goldman called upon friend and Vendomatic Inc. owner Barry John of Rockville, Md., to donate the sweet merchandise. Goldman fills the machines with candy and empties coins from the four machines in the hospital center's lobby about once a month.

Money from the gum ball machines covers most of the luncheon costs, Brown said. Donations from individuals pay the rest.

All the money is given to the hospital auxiliary to be deposited in the luncheon account.

The Goldmans said they hope to put charity candy machines elsewhere in Washington County so they can help fund more projects at the hospital center.

Residents relish the chance to participate in activities outside the center, said Glenn Cook, president of the Resident Council at the hospital center.

"I just like going to carnivals, tractor pulls, art shows, craft shows," Cook typed on his Lightwriter machine, which speaks the words he types on a keyboard.

To contribute to the luncheon fund or host a charity machine, call 301-791-4478.

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