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Potter's Bowl warms the soul and assists Hagerstown free clinic

Elks Lodge allows more breathing room for event

Elks Lodge allows more breathing room for event

February 11, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- Outside the Hagerstown Elks Lodge, the wind blew furiously and the windchill was in the single digits, but by the time the crowd of 250 people began to trickle out to their cars Sunday night, their stomachs were full of hot soup and their souls were warm with the joy of helping others.

The occasion was the 16th annual Potter's Bowl, an event sponsored by B'nai Abraham Synagogue and Trinity Lutheran Church to raise money for the Community Free Clinic in Hagerstown. For $50, each guest got to pick a pottery bowl donated by a local artist and fill it with one of nine varieties of soup.

Proceeds hadn't been tallied Sunday night, but organizers hoped to reach $20,000 between admission to the sold-out event, 1,000 raffle tickets and auctioned items, which brought in hundreds of dollars each.

All of that money will be donated to the clinic, where it costs about $210.92 to treat a patient for a year, according to Executive Director Robin Roberson.

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This year, the Elks Club donated space for the event in its lodge, a roomier venue than the church or synagogue that have hosted the event in the past, co-chairwoman Carol Mendelsohn said.

"Stretch your arms out," she said as she welcomed guests. "It's more room than we've ever dreamed of having."

As a result of the new venue, organizers were able to add an additional nine tables, co-chairwoman Janet Emral Shaool said.

The fundraiser is popular enough that it would probably sell out no matter how many extra seats are added, but the size is limited by the number of pottery bowls the artists can create, volunteer Carrol Lourie said.

"It really doesn't need to be advertised," said Lourie, a B'nai Abraham member who began volunteering last year because she couldn't seem to get a ticket any other way.

Among those lucky enough to get a ticket was Lindsay Vega, 17, of Smithsburg, who tried the chicken tortilla soup, a new addition this year.

"It's very good," she said, sipping from a spoon that trailed strings of hot cheese.

Varga said she has made a tradition of coming with her mother and grandmother, and the family gathered a small collection of pottery bowls, which they set out at home filled with nuts or snacks.

At other tables, discussions of kilns and pottery wheels filled the air as artists seized the opportunity to talk shop. While some guests were attracted to bowls based on unique colors and shapes, potters evaluate their selections based on weight and the smoothness of the glaze, said Julia Wright, 28, of Hagerstown, who was joined by fellow artists Jo Dunn and Kathy Sortore. Together, the three of them participate in craft shows under the name "Sortore Dunn Wright."

Jay Cooper, 30, of Big Pool, said he gained a new appreciation for pottery on his first date with a pottery maker who is now his wife.

"She took me to throw some pottery," he said. "I watched her do it and it looked simple, but then I tried it and all I ended up with was like clay mashed potatoes."

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