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REACH breakfast raises money and homelessness awareness

November 14, 2009|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

HAGERSTOWN -- Bill and Tina Robertson love pancake breakfasts. They go to a lot of them.

"It's our Saturday fall ritual," said Bill Robertson, 50, of Hagerstown.

But the one they attended Saturday left the couple with more then just full bellies. They also got an eye-opener about the issue of homelessness.

The Robertsons went to the REACH Cold Weather Shelter for a breakfast hosted by the Washington County Homeless Coalition. The group served hot meals to about 34 shelter guests before opening the line to the rest of the diners.

The Robertsons took donations of blankets, coats and socks to the shelter. During their meal, they asked a worker if there were other items the shelter could use to serve its guests. They received a list of items that got them thinking.

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"You don't realize the things that are needed to run a place like this," said Tina Robertson, 47. "Who would've thought to bring underwear, pillows, shower curtains, creamers and sugar?"

Bill Robertson said the list caused him to think a lot about people who are homeless.

"They live their daily lives just like we live our daily lives. Only when we need something, we open the refrigerator door and get it. Or we go to the store for it," he said. "Some people can't."

Cindy Hockenbury, secretary for the homeless coalition and an employee of the Washington County Community Action Council, said the impact the breakfast had on the Robertsons was just what the organizers had hoped for.

"We decided to organize the breakfast fundraiser for a few reasons," Hockenbury said. "First, we just wanted to serve a hot meal to the shelter guests. But we also wanted to raise awareness about homelessness, and raise some money to help homeless people."

Hockenbury said guests typically receive a breakfast of cold cereal or packets of instant oatmeal before leaving the shelter in the morning.

"They were really happy to have a hot breakfast on a dreary November day," she said.

Tamara Lloyd, 27, of Hagerstown, went to the event with her children, Tyquan, 5, and Tashera, 6.

"I was dealing with the Community Action Council when they asked me if I wanted to come out. So we came out to support it," Lloyd said. "It's really nice."

Adrien Motz, 18, of Hagerstown, had breakfast with Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II.

"I think this is great thing (the coalition) is doing here, bringing a lot of people out to raise money for a really great organization," Motz said. "I'm listening to the conversation around me and it brings hope to the human spirit. The food is great and the atmosphere is even better."

Bruchey said he thinks REACH does a crucial job in the Washington County community.

"In this time, in this economy, I believe we need to support them as much as we can to lend a hand up," Bruchey said. "And the pancakes and sausage were delicious."

REACH Executive Director Jodie Stock said the breakfast fundraiser surpassed her expectations.

"This community is always really generous. We saw another outpouring of that today," she said. "I am very, very pleased."

Hockenbury said about 150 people attended the event. The coalition raised about $750 for further awareness and service projects.

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