Blues and green for relief

Restaurant fundraiser to aid Katrina victims

Restaurant fundraiser to aid Katrina victims

September 19, 2005|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM


Bryan and Libby Hale never miss The Blue Comets' live shows.

Sunday afternoon, the Smithsburg couple followed the blues band to Hagerstown's Roccoco Restaurant, where they helped raise more than $2,600 for the American Red Cross' Hurricane Katrina relief fund.

"It's a win-win situation," said Bryan Hale, of his chance to hear music, snack on hors d'oeuvres and donate money to help victims of the hurricane. "We're trying to help."

Todd Bolton, a Harpers Ferry, W.Va., park ranger, said he saw what was happening along the Gulf Coast on television and rallied The Blue Comets and jazz band Howard Burns Trio, along with Cheryl Kenney, who owns Roccoco. It took them only about a week to plan the fundraiser, which lasted about four hours.


By the first hour, they had raised $680 in donations. Winners of a silent auction were announced later in the evening. Prizes included dinner for two at a local restaurant, dinner for four prepared in someone's home by a Roccoco chef and other items.

"We were just trying to think of something locally we could do," Kenney said.

She said the restaurant was a convenient location because it is typically closed on Sunday.

Carrie and Bill Kesler, like the Hales, said they came for the music, but were glad for the chance to donate to hurricane relief efforts. The Hagerstown couple said they enjoy listening to the Howard Burns Trio.

"I'd been wanting to contribute, but I hadn't found a way yet," Carrie Kesler said. "Now I have."

Bolton said those who arrived were encouraged to donate what they could to the Red Cross, but tickets were not sold.

"Whether it's $5 or $500, it's more than we had before we started," he said.

Karen Hart of Smithsburg arrived Sunday eager to hear The Blue Comets, she said. She was equally eager for the chance to donate to the Red Cross on her way through the door - her first contribution to the hurricane relief fund.

"There is so much that's needed," said Regina Swope of Hagerstown. "It's a historical event that you really don't want to be a part of."

Swope attended the fundraiser Sunday with her husband, Dale. Both were devastated by the images they saw on television of people with nothing after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast.

"And also, you don't often have something to go to in Hagerstown on a Sunday afternoon," Regina Swope said.

Howard Burns, who plays drums and saxophone in the Howard Burns Trio, said he hopes to plan at least two more fundraisers in Martinsburg, W.Va., and at Frederick (Md.) Community College to benefit victims of Katrina.

"It's going to take a lot for a long time," Burns said. "It's going to take everybody pitching in. It's going to take Americans helping Americans."

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