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Fund for the needy keeps Bill Harne's name alive

December 15, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

Editor's note: This series over the 12 days before Christmas recognizes those individuals and groups that make the holidays better for others.




julieg@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Instead of exchanging Christmas gifts last year, Bill Harne's family pooled its money to help a needy family.

It was a gesture Harne, of Mercersburg, Pa., planned to make an annual tradition, but he died in a motorcycle accident three days after Christmas 2003, said his mother, Pam Lute. He was 29.

Lute said the family still planned to help a needy family this holiday season, but thanks to Hagerstown couple Shawn and Eric Rosenthal, more people will be helped.

The Rosenthals asked Lute if it was OK if they spearheaded an effort to create an endowment fund to continue the tradition in Harne's memory, Lute said.

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"Of course, I don't mind at all. It's nice to know that his name is going to live on," said Lute, who is Shawn Rosenthal's aunt.

So far, the Billy Harne Memorial Christmas Fund has more than $14,000 and more donations are expected, Lute said.

Interest from the fund will be used to help one or more needy families during the holidays, said Eric Rosenthal, 40.

Pastor Raymond H. Shriver at Christ Lutheran Church in Hagerstown will pick the recipients so they can remain anonymous to the family and Harne's family will shop for the gifts and whatever else the family needs, Lute said.

Last year, Harne's family gave gifts and food to a family, Lute said.

This year the fund is expected to help two Washington County families, Lute said.

Donations have come from family members and friends; Bill Harne's employer, Pepsi Bottling Group; and others who heard about the fund through word of mouth or a letter to the editor Harne's brother, Randy Harne, wrote, Lute and the Rosenthals said.

Bill Harne's stepfather, Gerry Lute, is donating some proceeds from the sale of his book, "Four Roses for Sarah," to the fund, he said. The book is dedicated to his stepson.

Eric Rosenthal said his wife came up with the idea to do something in Bill Harne's name.

"I don't want Billy's name to die. He was a good person in a real quiet way. He never bragged," said Shawn Rosenthal, 36.

Those wishing to donate may make checks payable to Christ Lutheran Church and on the memo line write Billy Harne Memorial Christmas Fund. Checks also may be sent to Eric and Shawn Rosenthal, 20332 Ayoub Lane, Hagerstown, MD 21742.

Thursday: Antietam Academy's Mary Fortson

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