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Habitat auction features circus theme

March 13, 2005|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Last year, they were off to see the wizard.

This year, they sent in the clowns.

Habitat for Humanity of Washington County turned the ballroom at Clarion Inn and Conference Center Antietam Creek into a three-ring fund-raiser on Saturday.

The event, "Under the Big Top with Habitat," featured silent and live auctions, raffles and other games, a buffet dinner and decorations bearing circus themes.

Some of the 190 items donated for the auction included a pool table, paintings, a diamond pendant necklace, pearls and tools.

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Among lines of people glancing at the auction items and mingling crowds, people dressed as clowns made rounds around the ballroom.

Habitat Executive Director Sherry Brown Cooper said the fund-raiser is held annually, but the theme changes from year to year.

Last year's "Wizard of Oz" theme event, called "There's No Place Like Home," raised $40,000.

More than 400 people attended this year's sold-out event, Cooper said.

"Usually, every year you want to try to make more than you did the year before, so it would be wonderful if we exceeded (last year's amount)" Cooper said.

The money raised at the events helps Habitat to continue building affordable housing for low-income families, according to a written statement.

The homes are sold to qualifying families for a no-profit, no-interest mortgage. Families put in 500 hours of "sweat equity" building Habitat houses and participating in other Habitat projects, according to the statement.

Construction plans for Habitat this year include building two houses on Vickie Drive as part of the Gateway Crossing project.

"We think it's a great organization ... because I believe in giving money to charities where people help themselves," said Colleen Stone, who attended the event with her husband, Jim Stone.

The Stones said this year was the first time they've attended the fund-raiser.

"We haven't been here before, because it always falls on my birthday," Colleen Stone said.

Near the end of dinner, Cooper said Colleen Stone was to receive a surprise. Stone was to be called to the stage, and if the crowd sang "Happy Birthday," Jefferson House Builders agreed to donate $1,000 to Habitat.

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