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February 6, 2013

Organizers expand fundraiserto help others

By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star

---- — The success in organizing a fundraiser for an area business led organizers to expand its reach. A benefit concert for the Golden Lotus tattoo parlor and St. James’ Episcopal Church food pantry will be held from 6:30 to 11 p.m. Friday at the Oneonta Theatre. There will be a silent auction from 6:30 to 9 p.m. featuring art, crafts and gift certificates from local stores and services, and a 50/50 raffle. Admission is $3, and non-perishable food donations are encouraged.

Local bands scheduled to appear include Heaven’s Back Door, John Scarpulla, Spectacular Average Boys, Krisco Fist and Hop City Hellcats.

Oneonta visual artist Maryann Stow started organizing the fundraiser in mid-January after she saw on Facebook that the Golden Lotus suffered two broken storefront window in about two weeks, starting on New Year’s Eve. She is working with area resident Carol Mandigo.

As a cancer survivor, Stow said she had benefited from a fundraising effort in 2010, and it was time to pay back the community.

“It just took off,” with the Oneonta Theatre donating the venue, she said. With the estimated costs for the windows at $2,000, another beneficiary was needed, and the work of area food banks has been in the news. St. James’ was chosen from several candidates.

With almost 40 people volunteering their services for the event, the community response has like “alchemy,” she said, in turning a bad circumstance into something positive.

Golden Lotus owner Jason Sexton said the efforts of this friends has been “awesome.” He is also a photographer and painter. He previously had insurance but didn’t feel the $100 annual cost was worth the $500 deductible.

Sexton said he didn’t know why anyone would break his windows. But he did consider that his storefront displayed an anti-fracking poster and was an illustrator to a recent article in The New York Times.

Sexton said he would like the person or persons who broke the windows to pay for replacements but doesn’t want to press criminal charges.

Police said that with no suspects for either incident, the cases have been closed.

St. James’ Episcopal Church director of food ministries Joyce Mason said she was impressed that the event organizers where thinking of the business as well as the greater community in planning the fundraiser.

“I’m thrilled” they have chosen St. James’ food pantry, she said. She planned on attending to show her support, she said.

The number of people who need the food pantry services continues to be great, Mason said. A recent cut of federal grant money to the local United Way has not helped the situation, she said. Although the donation from the event will go to her food pantry, she said she works with other related organizations in the city and county if they need help. St. James’ received similar support when it needed it.

“We help each other out,” she said.