Purses are hot tickets at benefit auction in Shepherdstown

October 15, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - How about a Julie Bowen purse to jazz up your wardrobe?

Or if you want to stick to your West Virginia roots, maybe one from West Virginia first lady Gayle Manchin would be more appropriate.

Purses once owned by Bowen, who starred in television shows like "Ed" and "Lost," and a sterling-silver purse owned by Manchin were among those offered during an auction in Shepherdstown Sunday to raise money for breast and cervical cancer screening programs in Jefferson County.

The fundraiser at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center was organized by the Jefferson County Community Educational Outreach Service Clubs, which got their start in the county in 1933 as a way to help strengthen individuals and families.


Last year, the organization held its first fundraiser for breast and cervical cancer screening and raised $3,000, said group spokeswoman Jolene Stanton.

Money for screenings is raised through a purse auction, and the handbags often have a distinguished history.

Several of the purses auctioned Sunday at the Pink Luncheon & Purse Auction belonged to Bowen, and the Los Angeles actress included notes along with the purses describing her use of them.

Stanton said her group had a connection with Bowen through her husband, Dan, who used to work for the Discovery Channel and who has worked with Bowen.

Among the Bowen handbags was a yellow Kate Spade purse that retails for about $325 and a Marc Jacobs bag, which retails for about $1,100, Stanton said.

Stanton said Bowen often takes time to help out communities.

"She reads to children after school when she's not filming," Stanton said.

The solid silver purse owned by Manchin was displayed on a table with the others and was accompanied by a photograph of the first lady wearing it.

Stanton said Manchin was contacted about helping with the auction and immediately sent the silver purse.

Another purse offered for auction was one owned by Doris Topping, whose husband worked as an ambassador. Topping carried the purse when she visited Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Stanton said.

Raising money for annual breast and cervical cancer screenings is vital, since some women do not have insurance to cover the cost of the tests, Stanton said. Even if women have insurance, sometimes insurance companies will not cover the costs, she said.

The money raised through the event will help women assisted by the Jefferson County Health Department and the Eastern Panhandle Free Clinic get screenings, Stanton said.

Stanton said she was hoping her group could exceed last year's fundraising total and Sunday's attendance at the luncheon - about 60 - was about twice the size of last year's program.

Among those attending was Pat Bethany of Martinsburg, W.Va. Bethany said she was participating "for the women of West Virginia, and anywhere."

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