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Rouse Building to let wild things bloom Fund-raiser plans garden party look WEST COLUMBIA


In a scene reminiscent of "Where the Wild Things Are," the top floor of the Rouse Building in downtown Columbia will be transformed into a garden tomorrow night.

Baskets of pink ivy geraniums and red and white fuchsia will hang from a trellis over the banquet room doors.

Twelve weeping cherry trees and red azalea will anchor the corners of a dance floor. Four southern magnolias, measuring 6- to 8-feet high, will serve as a room divider.

The occasion for this vegetation is the 11th annual Columbia Foundation fund-raiser, which begins at 6 p.m. tomorrow.

The theme is a spring garden party.

The foundation expects 550 to 650 people, including doctors, bankers, lawyers, teachers and police officers.

"We like to think of it as creating community," said Barbara K. Lawson, the foundation's executive director.

Clyde's of Columbia restaurant will donate a light buffet of grilled chicken fingers, steamship round, stir fry salad, fresh raw oysters and brownies.

The plants and trees are courtesy of the Brickman Group Ltd. of Columbia.

Tickets are $35 a piece. The foundation hopes to raise $20,000, all of which will go to grants, Ms. Lawson said.

The proceeds from the party are just a small percentage of annual grants, which are expected to reach $317,000 this year. Corporate and personal gifts fund most of the grants.

The garden party kicks off a month that includes several events designed to promote the foundation and raise money.

On May 18, 15 county restaurants will donate 10 percent of their daily receipts to the foundation. They include the Phoenix Emporium and Cafe Normandie in Ellicott City, as well as the Bombay Peacock Grill in Kings Contrivance.

On May 22, 60 county businesses will also donate 5 percent of their gross receipts to the Columbia Foundation.

Columbia founder James W. Rouse established the foundation in 1969 to meet the city's diverse needs and build a more caring, creative community, according to foundation literature.

Since then, the foundation has handed out more than $2.3 million to nonprofit organizations that provide human, cultural, educational and community services to Howard County residents.

Last year, grants included $10,000 each to the county's Domestic Violence Center and Hospice Services, and $15,000 to Voices for Children, a child advocacy group.

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