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Holly Place benefit a big hit

January 11, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- A mix of country, folk and bluegrass greeted people who bought tickets to Sunday's benefit concert for a Hagerstown group home.

Sales for the show - a fundraiser for Holly Place - exceeded expectations, said Mariah Neff, an organizer.

David Martin, another organizer, said 350 tickets were sold in advance.

Then, when word about the concert spread further, another 150 or so showed up at the Hagerstown Elks Lodge and bought tickets at the door, he said.

"They ran out of tables," said Neff, who sang Sunday. "They had to go to the dining room and pull out (more)."

Holly Place, a group home on South Potomac Street for senior citizens, has struggled financially in recent years. Lawmakers and the community have worked to find money.

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In September, Douglas Wright Jr., president of the nonprofit board that runs the group home, said it needed to raise $160,000 to stay open this year.

Sunday's fundraiser was organized on short notice by Neff; Bud and Doris Kline; and Martin and Gary Carter of G&G Grill in Hagerstown.

Music was the draw.

"This seemed like a great way to spend the afternoon," said Beverly Kipe of Hagerstown.

She was with her aunt, Betty Lemons, and her father, Alan Kipe, who she said used to sing with Bluegrass Blend, a group that performed.

Kipe said Parkinson's disease forced her father to stop singing about five years ago.

"Now, he gets entertained instead of entertaining," she said.

Neff, who performed first, said it was her first live show since 2002.

The Incredible Driftin' Whistlepigs also were scheduled to perform.

The fundraiser included live and silent auctions.

Neff was excited to hear that two cherub statues she donated inspired spirited bidding.

At 4 p.m., the bid was $250. A half-hour later, it had risen to $375.

Don Thompson, the high bidder, sat at a nearby table and watched for people approaching the bid sheet.

His wife, Sharon Davidson of Braddock Heights, Md., said she found out about the concert through a connection to Buck Fisher of Bluegrass Blend. She hadn't heard of Holly Place before then, but decided it was a worthwhile cause.

Martin said many local businesses and organizations who were asked for door and auction prizes felt the same way.

"Everyone's been very receptive," he said.

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