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Habitat Dinner and Auction raises money to keep families together

April 10, 2010|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

HAGERSTOWN -- Tracey Morgan says Habitat for Humanity helped keep her family together.

Morgan was laid off from the Department of Social Services in April 2008, when her position was eliminated. Not long before that, her family had started renting a duplex.

She vigorously sought work while her husband, Charles, continued to work. But their electric bill increased and Morgan's employer cut his hours. Left with only his 20-hour-a-week paycheck as income, the couple and their three children were evicted.

Following a series on homelessness in The-Herald Mail, Tracey Morgan said Habitat for Humanity of Washington County contacted her family about working with them to provide a home. The Morgans moved into a new house on Lanvale Street in November 2009.

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"In a world where families are torn apart every day, they helped keep my family together," she said.

So Tracey Morgan said she was happy to be volunteering Saturday night at Habitat's 17th annual Dinner and Auction at Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center.

"Habitat will be a part of my life until I die. And my children's, too," Tracey Morgan said. "These are the kind of people you want to be around."

Nearly 500 people attended the fundraising event. The evening's theme was "Around the World with Habitat."

English-as-a-second-language students from foreign countries who attend Smithsburg schools greeted attendees at the door. They spoke in their native languages and dressed in traditional garb from Sierra Leone, China and Japan. Programs listing auction items were decorated like passports. Flags were used for decoration and ethnic food was served at the buffet.

Sherry Brown Cooper, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Washington County, said the dinner and auction has grown throughout the years in both popularity and profit.

When she joined Habitat 11 years ago, the event attracted 150 people and raised $7,200. This year, 490 people attended. Two years ago, the event brought in $82,500 and last year, even in a difficult economy, Cooper said the event raised $60,000.

"This year, we are hoping for sixty- or sixty-five (thousand)," Cooper said. "It's doable."

Spring Ward of Hagerstown said she has attended the dinner and auction event for years.

"It's just so much fun," she said. "There is so much excitement, walking all around and seeing everything up for bid. It's an opportunity to find some bargains and it's for such a great cause."

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