A Taste for giving

Taste of the Town is benefit for REACH

Taste of the Town is benefit for REACH

October 08, 2007|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN - In a gymnasium filled with purple and silver balloons, surrounded by trays of crab dip, beef roulade and pastries, Ron Myers found himself thinking about saltines.

Myers, a volunteer with REACH Caregivers, said he and his wife sometimes bring in cases of crackers when they volunteer at the REACH Day Resource Center. Usually, they're gone in five minutes.

"There are so many people who haven't had any food all day," Myers said. And it's not through any fault of their own, he said. Many of the people who visit the resource center get up at 4:30 a.m. to wait in line for day labor, only to find they still can't afford to pay their rent on $8 an hour. That's where the purple and silver balloons and the crab dip come in.

About 665 people packed Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center Sunday for Taste of the Town, a $35-per-ticket dinner and auction to benefit REACH, which also operates a cold- weather homeless shelter and provides services to elderly and disabled people. The event is REACH's biggest fundraiser of the year, and Executive Director Terri Baker said she hoped this year's proceeds would be about $40,000.


That money will be a big help for an organization already over its very limited budget, Myers said.

It's also a good opportunity to recruit volunteers, Baker said.

Andrea Ferguson, 47, of Martinsburg, W.Va., said she began volunteering to drive seniors to doctors appointments with the organization's "Faith in Action" program after hearing about it at last year's event. She's also helped out with the organization's bagged lunch program.

"I've seen firsthand some of the families who are in need of blankets, coats and other basic necessities," Ferguson said.

Fundraiser attendees sampled food from 23 area restaurants and caterers, ranging from chains like Sheetz and Waffle House to Hagerstown originals like Always Ron's and Bones & Cones Dessertery.

For Durango's, a Tex-Mex restaurant that opened five months ago at 12 E. Washington St., the event was an opportunity to make a grand debut while also supporting a good cause, co-owner Rigo Bonilla said.

His quesadillas and tacos flew so fast that he had to send his staff back to the restaurant to get more.

For Ingrid Frame, 36, who moved to Hagerstown in June, the event was a chance to get a feel for some of what the city has to offer. Frame had never heard of Always Ron's, and, though she'd passed by Barefoot Bernie's, she said she might never have thought to go there if she hadn't tried their crab cakes.

Before the last cream puff was plucked from the tray, Baker was already starting to think about next year's event and the hundreds of hours of planning and organizing that will come with it. And she has some advice for those who want to come:

"Reserve your tickets early."

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