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Hospice cooks up a tasty fund-raiser

August 08, 2002

kevinc@herald-mail.com

Eva and Marlin Martin operate the lunch counter at Hagerstown Regional Airport, coupled with a catering business specializing in weddings, picnics and business functions.

Yet no experience could prepare them for the culinary blitzkrieg that is Taste of the Town.

Why, just last year, their second at the Hospice of Washington County fundraiser, the owner's of Martin's Catering Service brought a generous helping of fresh peach pies for tasters to savor.

"It's funny how the word spreads through the whole place," Eva Martin says. "And then you've got this long line. I didn't have enough peach pies for everybody."

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Sunday, when the 18th Taste of the Town begins at the Clarion Hotel on Dual Highway, the Martin's will be sure to have more of their sweet peach delights, as well as homemade coleslaw, chocolate mousse cake and cheesecakes.

In their third year at the Taste, the Martins will join 19 other vendors to provide varied tastes to please many palates. Proceeds go to Hospice, which will use them for medical care, medications, equipment and bereavement services.

Last year, the Taste generated $32,000 when 686 people flocked to the hotel's Grand Ballroom to sample delicacies from local eateries. With 700 slated to attend Sunday, Hospice community liaison Dawn Johns says the goal is to cook up $40,000 during the non-profit organization's largest fund-raiser of the year.

Like the Martins and their peach pies, Shawn and Clarence Sprenkle ran out of food during the 2001 Taste, their first. This year, the owners of Cajun Cookin in Hagerstown are planning to double the amount of red beans and rice, shrimp creole and a Mississippi Mud Pie dessert.

"I was floored by how many people participated. It was wonderful, it was just packed," Shawn Sprenkle says. "It's a nice way to give something back, y' know?"

The Martins return year after year because of the fun they have meeting new people, seeing what others offer and helping a worthy cause.

What makes the event such a success - tickets often sell out quickly, and this year's Taste has been no different - is its unique format.

"It's a different type of fundraiser," Eva Martin says. "When people have the same type of fundraiser over and over again, like selling candy bars, people get tired of it."

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