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Potter's Bowl fundraiser fills the senses and free clinic's coffers

February 10, 2013|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Mike Armel stirs one of the eleven specialty soups at Sunday's Potter's Bowl fundraiser to benefit the Community Free Clinic in Hagerstown.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — The annual Potter’s Bowl has become such a big event in its 21 years of existence that it now it has to turn people away.

Organizers for the fundraiser for the Community Free Clinic in Hagerstown had to stop selling bowls when 280 guests signed up for Sunday’s meal at First Christian Church on Potomac Avenue, said Carol Mendelsohn, one of the organizers.

When asked what she thought about all the years of the event, Mendelsohn paused and thought.

“I think we’re old enough to vote,” Mendelsohn said.

Mendelsohn said tickets had to be limited to 280 because that was all First Christian Church could hold in its lower level.

Although Mendelsohn said it would probably take about a day to determine how much was raised, the event usually raises $18,000 to $20,000 for the Community Free Clinic.

For $50, guests received a bowl made by a potter and the chance to sample a variety of soups like spicy squash, curried red lentil and Italian beef vegetable. Salads and bread also were served. All the bowls were donated, as well as the food and the space at the church, Mendelsohn said.

Money also is raised through raffles and auctioning of artwork and Oriental rugs.

The Potter’s Bowl was started to help the struggling Community Free Clinic, which opened in 1990, according to the program for Sunday’s meal. The clinic provides people with free medical care and prescription medication, and many patients are facing life-threatening complications when they come to the facility, the program said.

Robin E. Roberson, executive director of the clinic, said at Sunday’s Potter’s Bowl that she continues to be overwhelmed by the community’s support of the clinic.

“Every year there are new faces, but then there are people who come year after year after year,” Roberson said of the Potter’s Bowl.

A long line stretched from an outside door at the church as people waited to get inside. The line of people extended down a long hallway inside before it ended at a room where guests could pick out their bowls.

Local television personality Lou Scally had to get on an intercom to help direct people to empty chairs in the large room where the soup was served.

Among the guests were Gary and Carol Bryan of Williamsport.

Gary Bryan said he and his wife have been coming “a lot of years. I don’t know how many. I know we have a great collection of bowls,” said Bryan, who added he and his wife also support the REACH shelter and Habitat for Humanity.

Gary Carter of Hagerstown said he has been attending the Potter’s Bowl for about 15 years and likes to support it because of they way it helps the community. As the owner of G&G Grill at the corner of Potomac and Baltimore streets in Hagerstown, Carter said he also donated desserts for the event.

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