The main lobby of Carroll Hospital was filled with new places to sit on Tuesday evening, but the crowd that had packed the place for a soiree chose to stand, the occasional glass of fruit punch or white sangria in hand.
This was the artist's reception for the Carroll Hospital Auxiliaries Chair-ity Auction, and the artists who had built and decorated a wide variety of furniture — from foot stools to rocking chairs to Adirondack mutations — were mingling with those bidding on them in a silent auction.
The first and only event of its kind for the auxiliary, and a one-and-done affair, according to President Barbara Gunther — the auxiliary likes to keep things fresh, she said — the Chair-ity auction runs through 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7, and people can silently bid on the chairs in the hospital lobby with all proceeds going toward new diagnostic tools at the hospital.
"The Auxiliary raises funds each year for some project for the hospital. This year we are raising $350,000 to purchase two digital, state-of-the-art X-ray machines," Gunther said. "Right now we need about $100,000 before the end of this year to meet that goal and it looks like we are on target to do that."
On Tuesday evening, Nancy Bowman attended the reception to support her daughter, Dana Saunders, who was one of the artists to contribute chairs for the auction, but also to bid on a few chairs herself. Bowman was captivated by "Oh Say Can You Sit!," a high-backed chair made with the metal base of a sewing machine and wood salvaged from the estate of Francis Scott Key.
"Just because it's patriotic, it caught my eye — my whole family room is down in red, white and blue," Bowman said. "The history of the wood is fascinating."
Saunders, the director of physician practices for Carroll Health Group, said that while she likes to believe she has a creative side, it was the cause of raising funds for the X-ray machines that led her to refurbish two rocking chairs for the auction.
"The two chairs I picked out I purchased from the White Rabbit Thrift Store that's also connected with the hospital. People drop off furniture as donations at the White Rabbit," Saunders said. "I found two chairs that were speaking to me that needed to be hugged. So I hugged them."
Saunders created a patriotic themed rocking chair titled "Americana," which was still for sale as of Tuesday evening, and an "Upon a Time" rocking chair. "It was princess-inspired for a child, and somebody bought that at the buy it now price, so it is in its forever home," she said, noting that chairs in the auction include a "buy it now" price clause.
The "Oh Say Can You Sit!" chair so admired by Bowman was created by David Underwood, co-owner of RUST by Justin, and Brian Vaughn of Mason Dixon Metal Designs, who often work together in designing chairs, tables and other furniture for clients using reclaimed materials.
"The wood is from Francis Scott Key's barn that was being torn down — we salvaged it and cleaned the wood up and turned it into what it is now," Vaughn said. "We've had the sewing machine base for a while and wanted to do something with it and thought this was a good use."
Underwood and Vaughn were also drawn to the cause of helping Carroll Hospital, and for very personal reasons. Underwood suffers from Castleman's disease, a rare disease of the lymph nodes, and has received what he calls wonderful care at the hospital.
"I've been a patient here several times and they have taken care of me in the ER," Underwood said. "We feel very blessed that we can be a part of this and we wanted to give back to the hospital for what they have done for me."
For those that miss the chance to bid on a chair at the Chair-ity auction or who simply do not have room for another piece of furniture, Gunther said there will be other Carroll Hospital Auxiliary fundraisers throughout the rest of the year, most notably the Auxiliary Gala to be held Nov. 5 at Martin's Westminster
"When we gather all those funds together including this, that will help us meet that goal for this year," she said. "Come out to all of our fundraisers and help us raise money — it's not just for the hospital, it's for the community. That's what it's all about."
If you go
What: The Carroll Hospital Auxiliary Chair-ity Auction
When: Now until 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7
Where: Carroll Hospital main lobby, 200 Memorial Ave., Westminster
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Fore more information on the Chair-ity Auction, Auxiliary fundraising events or the upcoming Auxiliary Gala, call 410-871-7280 or go to www.carrollhospitalcenter.org/auxiliary