Realtors get recognition from top rung

News of a June charity event at the Bethany Beach Long and Foster real estate office made it to not only local papers and television stations, but to the White House as well.

The agents at the office recently received a letter from President George W. Bush, thanking them for their fundraising efforts to benefit wounded soldiers staying at the Landstuhl Military Hospital in Germany.

“Through courage, compassion and strength, Americans are demonstrating the character of our country,” the letter said.

The event took place on June 4 and raised more than $2,500 from the sale of furniture, books, artwork and gift certificates — 100 percent of the profits went to support the troops.

“It was something very minimal, but it lets people know we care and that we appreciate so much what [the soldiers] are doing,” said Mary McLaughlin, a Long and Foster agent.

The office holds one charity event each year, and this time decided to benefit the war wounded when Ben Dawson, a member from the Ocean City Lions Club and a Long and Foster agent in Ocean City, approached them about the club’s own fundraising efforts.

The Lions Club began fundraising for the soldiers a year and a half ago, after hearing the stories of those healing at the Germany hospital with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Dawson, a war veteran himself, was inspired to begin fundraising and visited numerous area business seeking clothes and monetary support.

“The Realtors have always been very generous, and I think their event went extremely well because of that,” Dawson said. “They made much more money than I expected, and more than I think they expected too.”

Dawson has visited the hospital twice since his project began, each time bringing donations and money collected from area charity events, and individual donations.

Friends, family and neighbors of the Long and Foster agents donated the majority of the items for sale at the event. Local businesses, such as Victoria’s Restaurant in Rehoboth Beach and Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club, also donated gift certificates that were sold for half their face value.

“All of us pitched in where we could and when we could,” McLaughlin said. “Everyone was so enthusiastic and we really had a lot of fun.”

Dawson said he plans to travel to Germany again this November and that the soldiers he visits are always thankful for the efforts made at home.

“It’s really a tremendous project because all the wounded men and women are so happy with what we are doing and always have such positive attitudes,” Dawson said.

The Lions Club has raised more than $35,000 since the project began and has sent more than 3,500 items of clothing, according to Dawson.

For more information or to donate money or clothing to the effort, contact Ben Dawson at (410) 603-2205.