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Purse auctions clutch cash for breast cancer programs

May 02, 2010|By DAVE McMILLION

HAGERSTOWN -- An energetic Tom Riford rapidly paced Sunday between tables at Hager Hall Conference & Event Center, looking for the highest bid.

Riford, president and CEO of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, was one of two people auctioning purses to raise money for local breast cancer programs.

"Do I hear $350?" Riford yelled to the crowd of about 560 people. "350?" Riford said, finding a potential bidder.

"Yes! $350," said Riford, shouting and thrusting his arms as he was able to make the bids go higher.

At the sixth annual Purse-on to Person Fighting Breast Cancer Auction, organizers were hoping to gross more than $80,000, said Joan Fell, executive director of Breast Cancer Awareness-Cumberland Valley.

People donated purses for the auction, which featured 25 options in the live auction and 213 choices for the silent auction, Fell said.

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Some of the purses, which were displayed on tables for potential bidders, were stuffed with items like DVDS or books, while others had themes.

Purses coming up for auction were displayed on a huge screen at the front of a conference room at the hall along Dual Highway.

Tickets for admission to the event and a meal cost $40, which also raised money for breast cancer programs, Fell said.

Fell said the breast cancer support programs her organization works on are some of the most comprehensive in the country, and include a wig bank, a prosthesis bank and free mammograms. Other programs include "Dinner's Ready," in which breast cancer patients receive grocery gift cards to help them provide hot meals for their families without worrying about cooking, she said.

Ellen Strock of Greencastle, Pa., attended the event for the first time Sunday and said she decided to come with a friend from Blue Eyes Salon, a Hagerstown business that donated a purse.

"I think its just wonderful. It's an overwhelming turnout," Strock said.

Cindy Campbell of Hagerstown came with her friend Jackie Huffman of Hagerstown. Campbell was celebrating nine years of being cancer-free after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001.

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