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Taste of the Town brings in funding for REACH

October 04, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- By eating and bidding on Sunday, hundreds of people helped the Religious Effort to Assist and Care for the Homeless (REACH) fill its coffers.

Taste of the Town is a long-running tradition in the Hagerstown area. Five years ago, REACH picked up the event after another nonprofit organization, Hospice of Washington County, let it go.

The event is the biggest of the year for REACH, board President Tom Newell said. It has raised as much as $35,000, but it's also a good showcase for REACH and its work, he said.

Hundreds of people gathered in Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center on Sunday.

For $40, attendees sampled food from 27 local restaurants and caterers.

Chipotle had burritos. Cafe Del Sol prepared roast beef and chicken pesto. Applause Catering and Always Ron's offered chicken romano with tomato coulee, and pecan chicken with honey mustard.

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Black Eyed Susan probably served about 200 portions, employee Susan Starsinic guessed. Patagonia baby scallops with herbed orzo and goat cheese salad were on the menu.

Starsinic said owner John Walla has been part of Taste of the Town for several years.

Elois Jenkins, the president of Gumbo-Elois Caterers, is relatively new to the event and the area.

She said she fled New Orleans for Florida a few days before Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005. She had a friend in Martinsburg, W.Va., and eventually settled in Hagerstown -- bringing her New Orleans cuisine with her.

On Sunday, Jenkins dished out about 300 portions of New Orleans red beans, vegetable sautéed cabbage and New Orleans bread pudding with rum sauce.

She said she expects this month to reunite in Baton Rouge, La., with relatives she hasn't seen since Katrina hit.

Silent and live auction items filled several tables inside the ARCC, including an Xbox game system, a portrait session, a bass fishing trip and a 60-minute massage.

A group tour of Gettysburg, Pa., went for $300. Richard Willson's offer to do eight hours of home repair sold for $325.

Newell and his wife donated the use of their North Carolina condominium.

Bidders drove up the price before it went to Mary Lou Koontz of Hagerstown for $900.

Koontz said she and her husband, Clarence, volunteer security guards at the REACH shelter, plan to use the condo in August to celebrate Clarence's 80th birthday.

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