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Habitat auction exceeds goal

March 21, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

With Dorothy, The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and The Lion parading items for auction, including the $2,300 sale of Toto herself, supporters of Habitat for Humanity of Washington County Saturday night proved "There's No Place Like Home" by raising $40,000 toward building houses in the community.

Saturday night's dinner and auction turnout of 430 people at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Hagerstown was the largest group the local charity organization has seen in the 11 years since it's held the event, said Sherry Brown Cooper, executive director of the county Habitat for Humanity.

She said the group set a goal to raise $30,000 at this year's event and by 8:30 p.m., supporters had raised $24,000, which was tallied by red flakes piling up in The Tin Man's hand-held heart.

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Cooper said the goal of $30,000 would cover about half the cost to build a Habitat home.

"The generosity of these people is just amazing," she said after the auction ended.

The local Habitat for Humanity has completed 16 homes since it became an international affiliate in 1994, said William Bulla, public relations chair, through a release. Habitat has built more than 137,000 shelters worldwide, he said.

Saturday night's silent auction alone raised $11,324, said Eileen Beck, chairwoman of the event.

Students of Smithsburg High School drama director and English teacher Ruth Hobson dressed themselves in "Wizard of Oz" costumes for the "There's No Place Like Home" themed event.

Smithsburg sophomore Amanda Boyer, who dressed as Dorothy, said she wished her nighttime companion "Toto," who actually is an eight-month-old purebred female Cairn Terrier, would not be auctioned off.

The dog, donated by Geri Ruben, and an accompanying package that included toys, sweaters and beds donated by county veterinarians, pet stores and charitable community members, went for $2,300 at the live auction, the highest bidded item.

Cooper said there are plans to build four homes this year two on Liberty Street and two in Boonsboro.

John Barr, 50, owner of Ellsworth Electric, is sponsoring between $40,000 and $50,000 to build one of the homes on Liberty Street, a street on which his parents lived for more than 50 years.

He said his company will begin construction on the house, which sits close to the side yard of his parents' old house, in April.

"I'm just here to have a good time and support Habitat," he said.

The 2-foot tall blue tinsel hat off the Mayor of Munchkinland's head was auctioned off for $170.

Wes Churchey, 40, of Hagerstown, said he came to the charity auction five years ago as a guest and since has bought tables at the event. Cooper said a table for 10 costs $350.

Churchey, owner of Jefferson House Builders, Inc. and Greenwich Park Homes, said he planned to bid on Toto.

"I like to donate money to an organization that I know the money is staying in the county," he said.

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