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Heirlooms bring in cash for Red Cross

September 23, 2007|By MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN - Forget "Survivor" and "CSI." In Susan Kolson's house, a certain PBS show about antiques is must-see TV.

"I'm a "Roadshow" addict," she confessed. "I've always wanted to be part of something like that."

Saturday, she had her chance.

Volunteer certified appraisers were on hand at the Washington County chapter of the American Red Cross headquarters throughout the day to examine everything from Civil War swords to jewelry and quilts.

It was all part of the first Treasure Hunt Antiques and Appraisal Event, benefiting the local Red Cross chapter. And Kolson, who had rearranged her weekend plans, was one of the first in line.

"I have several family heirlooms that I've often wondered about," the Boonsboro resident said. "A little bit of family history has been passed down with the items, but I never had a professional opinion. This is my chance."

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In addition to appraisals, the event included an art exhibit and sale by members of the Valley Art Association, antique vendors, a car show hosted by the Mason-Dixon Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America and a live auction of donated paintings and antiques.

According to Julie Barr-Strasburg, executive director of the local Red Cross, all money raised through the event will stay in Washington County to support Red Cross services, such as local disaster relief, blood collections, assistance to military families, plus first aid, CPR and water safety training.

It was the local chapter's antique poster collection that initially inspired the treasure hunt event, Barr-Strasburg said.

"We have one of the largest collections in the U.S. and have always been looking for a way to showcase it," she said. "Since this area is a sort of antiques hub, we thought a "Roadshow" type of event might be fun."

Organizers were hoping to raise $5,000 from the day-long event.

"If we realize that amount, it would be phenomenal," Barr-Strasburg said. "But this is our first year."

By early morning, people had begun to arrive, unloading paintings, furniture and antique toys from the back of their vehicles.

Volunteer appraisers sat behind tables set up inside the chapter headquarters, giving their expert opinions for $5 per item.

"I've seen a lot of interesting things today," said Phyllis Potter, one of the local appraisers. "And everything that I've seen has truly been an antique."

Potter said she has been an appraiser for 40 years and loves what she does.

"You get to see so many wonderful and, sometimes, unusual heirlooms," she said. "But you also have a chance to share your expertise with people who often don't know what they have. I always give them a rightful appraisal."

Potter said she frequently volunteers at fundraisers, such as Saturday's Red Cross event.

"You never know what people will bring in," she said. "But today, I've seen some wonderful items. This is one of the best shows I've done."

Barr-Strasburg said the goal of the event was not only to raise money for the local Red Cross, but to generate interest in what Red Cross is all about.

"I hope people come today and have fun, but I also hope we find some new donors and new supporters," she said.

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