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Silent auction raises funds for utility relief

March 19, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HAGERSTOWN -- Jazz music drifted through the air as bidders made their way along tables offering items such as Persian rugs and pottery.

The silent auction Thursday night at the Hagerstown Hotel & Conference Center on Dual Highway was another fundraiser for the City of Hagerstown's Utility Relief Benefit Fund, which is money set aside to help people in need deal with heating costs.

Two benefit concerts over the last two years have raised money for the fund, and Thursday's silent auction offered more than 40 items to help raise more money.

Many of the items were donated from the Emral Shaool family and included oriental rugs. Bidders wrote their bids down on paper, and the highest bidders at the end of the evening for each item won the item.

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The Smithsburg Jazz Ensemble played, bidders nibbled on hors d'oeuvres and Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II and other dignitaries helped kick things off.

"Please, spend a lot of money," Bruchey told the crowd from a podium.

Stephanie McPherson of Clear Spring, one of about 30 bidders who turned out, made a bid on a rug and a tea set.

"This is the first time I've ever been here," McPherson said. "I'll definitely be back next year."

Karen Giffin, community affairs director for the City of Hagerstown, said organizers would not know until today how much was raised.

The two music concerts to raise money for the utility relief fund were at The Maryland Theatre. The first concert included a silent auction, but was smaller than Thursday's event, Giffin said.

About $31,000 has been raised for the utility relief fund and about $17,000 in assistance was distributed this year, said David G. Jordan, executive director of the Washington County Community Action Council Inc., which helps run the relief program.

Money raised from Thursday's silent auction will be added to the roughly $14,000 remaining to keep the program going, Jordan said.

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