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Fund-raiser nears goal

February 16, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

Carol Mendelsohn wondered aloud Sunday if this would be the year the Potter's Bowl efforts would hit the elusive $10,000 goal - a goal she said was not attainable without the work of 27 area potters.

The potters, including professional artists, amateurs, and staff and students of Hagerstown Community College, crafted more than 300 bowls for the annual Potter's Bowl, a benefit for the Community Free Clinic in Hagerstown.

The capacity crowd of 247 squeezed into the Trinity Lutheran Church hall just before 6 p.m. and used the handmade bowls, purchased at $30 each, to dine on 10 varieties of soup, said Mendelsohn, the event's co-coordinator.

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"We scientifically squeezed them all in, so they'll know one another very well by the end of the night," Mendelsohn joked.

"This couldn't have happened without the potters," she said.

Doris Hoopengardner said she has been donating her pottery skills for the event since its inception in the mid- 1990s.

Hoopengardner, a teacher of noncredit pottery courses at HCC and a full-time teacher at Williamsport High School, said the free clinic is such a good cause that "you can't not do it."

"When you go by, you think maybe you helped out people that can't afford medicine or treatment," Hoopengardner said.

Hoopengardner said a big boost this year was provided by a group of HCC students who devoted time to crafting bowls for the event.

"They worked a long time on those," Hoopengardner said. "Most of the work is done there at HCC."

Vivian Ogle, who organized a pottery workshop at HCC in January, said more than 100 of the bowls for the event were crafted at the college workshop last month.

Steve Wright, a professional ceramic artist based in Hagerstown, said it is nearly impossible for any of the artists, especially those working simultaneously on other projects, to track how much time they put into making his or her batch of bowls.

For Wright, doing his part for the Potter's Bowl has become a yearly tradition.

"I might have done every one, I can't even keep track," Wright said. "I'm just glad to be involved because it's a nice thing."

All proceeds from the event go to the free clinic, and services including soup- and dessert-making are donated by members of the organizing congregations, Congregation B'nai Abraham and Trinity Lutheran, said Mendelsohn, a member of Congregation B'nai Abraham.

Mendelsohn said the idea for the event was raised about a decade ago after Ben Culbertson, who teaches pottery at HCC, returned from a trip to Maine, where he attended a similar event known as the "Empty Bowl" dinner.

Mendelsohn said the event, which moved from facilities at B'nai Abraham to Trinity Lutheran because of demand, has come a long way since its first year when 90 people attended.

Aside from the sale of bowls for the soup and tickets to the dinner, items including paintings, quilts, cakes and leftover bowls were sold in an effort to get the event tally up to the $10,000 goal. Mendelsohn said the final tally would not be known until later today.

"We come so close every year," she said. "We've come as close as 50 bucks. If we could just shove 10 more chairs in here."

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