The House of OZ/Habitat Auction Exceeds Goal

by William L. Bulla


Entering the Clarion Hotel’s ballroom to attend the 11th annual auction dinner of Habitat For Humanity of Washington County was an exciting experience. As I walked past a burley guard cloaked in a unique, colorful uniform, I should have had a clue something unusual was going on. Suddenly I found myself in that mystical city from the books of Frank Baum, The Land of Oz.

Entering this enchanting land, I saw Dorothy carrying Toto in a basket. She was accompanied by her friends The Cowardly Lion, The Scarecrow, and The Tin Man. Dashing in and out of the crowd of 430 persons were those attractive little Munchkins as they scurried away from the Wicked Witch.

These costumed Oz characters were drama students of Ruth Hobson at Smithsburg High School volunteering their talent and adding a delightful touch to the evening.

The central display focused on a replica of “The Tin Man” and table centerpieces were unique hand-painted tin-ware items created by the Apple Valley Painters and the Potomac View Decorative Artists.

Hoping to surpass last year’s $27,000, event chair Eileen Beck and her committee, set this year’s goal at $30,000. When the March 20 event ended it had brought in $40,120. “I’m so excited!” Beck exclaimed. “It really shows people care about Habitat and its mission in our community.”

One such caring person bidding on items was Cheryl Moyer. “I look forward to each Habitat auction. I always have a wonderful time, great food, and see friends while supporting a most worthwhile organization,” she said.

David Fisher, Habitat’s treasurer, said, “I’m very impressed with the quality of the donated auction items.” His remark seemed to reflect the attitude and actions of the diners as they flocked around the silent auction tables, and later responded so favorably to the live auction.

The live auction was conducted by John and Michelle Compton, who once again donated their services for the cause. Vicki Nelson, Tom Riford and Art Callaham each appeared as guest auctioneers. Dave Barnhart did an outstanding job of Master of Ceremonies for the evening.

The highest bid of the evening was the auction’s last item. It was the eight-month old purebred female cairn terrier puppy donated by Geri Rubin. The dog brought a high bid of $2,300. The bidder received an accompanying package including a carrier, bed, sweater and dog toys.

“I’m overwhelmed by the results this evening!” said Sherry Brown Cooper, Habitat’s executive director, after announcing the total for the evening. “I thank all the many people who have worked on this project. I am very grateful that we have many friends attend tonight who want to help provide decent, affordable housing to families in need.”

Habitat’s construction plans for 2004 include one currently under construction on Liberty Street. This is being sponsored and built by Episcopal Churches and MIHI. St John’s Episcopal Church, a long-time partner with Habitat, spearheaded the sponsorship.

A second house, also on Liberty Street, will begin in April. This house is being sponsored by John and Theresa Barr and their family along with youth involved in Habitat’s Youth United program.

This summer, construction will begin on a duplex on St. Paul Street in Boonsboro. One side of the duplex will be Interfaith built. The other side will be the Banking In Our Communities house, sponsored by financial institutions supporting decent affordable housing. Hagerstown Trust Company has kicked-off this project with a $25,000 donation.

Habitat For Humanity of Washington County, an ecumenical Christian housing ministry, is a volunteer-based organization. It addresses the most basic of human needs, a place to live and grow, by providing decent, affordable housing to the needy. For more information call 301-791-9009.