Holiday Basket Raffle to benefit Canonsburg General Hospital

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Every month, the Women's Auxiliary of Canonsburg General Hospital organizes a fundraiser in the hospital lobby -- everything from bake goods to jewelry sales.

The biggest money-maker, however, is the annual Holiday Basket Raffle. Last year, the raffle brought in recording-breaking $19,072 for the hospital to help pay for the purchase of a digital mammography unit.

Marti Clister, director of human resources and overseer of the hospital volunteers, said the hospital purchased the unit in 2009 for $394,000. The auxiliary has helped contribute to paying off the cost of the unit though the holiday raffle started in 2005. The idea was an outgrowth of a raffle that was part of the hospital's annual holiday ball held for many years at Rolling Hills Country Club in Peters.

"When the cost of the ball got too expensive, we stopped having one but continued to organize the basket raffle, which has become very popular," auxiliary president Rose Szafraniec of Chartiers, said. "Hundreds come to the hospital just to bid on a basket."

Last year, business, corporate and private donors such as Sarris Candies, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dave & Busters, Carnegie Science Center, Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Opera, Andy Warhol Museum, Phipps Conservatory, the Union Grill and Levin Furniture contributed a total of 63 baskets.

"We try to package baskets so that gift certificates for restaurants in Pittsburgh are included with tickets to Pittsburgh events and gift certificates to local restaurants are matched with tickets to nearby places like Little Lake Theatre," Mrs. Clister said. "We also try to package each basket for a minimum value of $100, although some of the donors give baskets worth as much as $300."

Each year, auxiliary members send 300 letters to prospective donors. Mrs. Szafraniec noted that responses trickle in, but during the week before the event kick-off, the hospital is bombarded with baskets.

This year, holiday baskets will be displayed in the main lobby of the hospital from Nov. 29 through Dec. 12.Ticket sales are from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. New this year, the basket raffle will stay open till 8 p.m. Dec.2, 5 and 9. The raffle also will open early -- at 6 a.m. Dec. 4 -- to accommodate shoppers. Hours on weekends are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A strip of seven tickets is $5. Winners announced Dec. 12. You do not need to be present to win.

The women's auxiliary has 180 members and the annual dues is $2. Board meetings are held at the hospital the third Wednesday of every month, and any members can attend.

Every September, volunteers are invited to attend an appreciation dinner at the hospital, and an awards dinner is held in October to give pins to volunteers, based on the number of hours donated.

Over the years, the auxiliary has donated more than $3 million to the hospital.

Details: 724-745-3914.

Dave Zuchowski, freelance writer:

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