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Festival of Trees will raise funds for nursery

December 01, 2005|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

erinc@herald-mail.com

Forty-six decorated Christmas trees were on display Wednesday at Robinwood Medical Center.

The trees, which will remain until Sunday, were available to high bidders as part of the second annual Festival of Trees - a five-day fundraiser for the Antietam Healthcare Foundation.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will, for the second year, benefit a new special care nursery at Washington County Hospital. The nursery, which will begin accepting patients in January, will provide care for babies born at 32 weeks or more.

Sandy Pollack, executive director of the Antietam Healthcare Foundation, said more than 500 people were expected at the fundraiser.

Wednesday's event, "Tis the Night Before Preview Party," was the first of the fundraiser. Four of the decorated Christmas trees on display were sold during a live auction.

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The trees' decorations were fastened to the branches, and the trees will be delivered to the winning bidders, said Marina Shannon, spokeswoman for Washington County Health System.

Pollack said she expected Antietam Healthcare would raise $25,000 from Festival of Trees events.

Dr. David Solberg of Comprehensive Women's Care, which sponsored Wednesday's event, said the doctors in his office, which is in Robinwood Medical Center, will benefit from having the special nursery close by. He said, now, if a woman delivers a premature baby, the child might have to be transported to facilities in Baltimore.

With a facility at Washington County Hospital, doctors can minimize the separation of baby from mother, Solberg said.

"You really don't want to send one of them down the road," Solberg said. "We want to keep them here."

Jody Bishop, an administrative director with Washington County Hospital, said about 150 babies or mothers were transported to Baltimore for care that now will be done at the hospital.

Dawn Thomas of Hagerstown, an employee at Robinwood Dental Center, said her employer sponsored one of the Christmas trees, described as "Country Wonderland." Professional designers from TG Designs decorated the tree.

Thomas' husband, Mark, said he enjoyed looking at all of the decorated trees.

"It's nice to have a Christmas theme so early in the year," he said. "A lot of creativity went into those trees."

Other events planned for the remainder of the fundraiser include a performance by the Maryland State Boychoir, a teddy bear clinic, storytelling and a tree lighting ceremony.

Tickets for those events may be purchased at Robinwood Medical Center. To view the Christmas trees, tickets are available for $5, or $3 for children. Tickets also are available at the door.

The Antietam Healthcare Foundation has committed more than $600,000 over five years to support the nursery, which is designed for premature babies or newborns with medical complications.

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