Saturday, November 29, 2003

Tireless effort feeds hungry

Dinner dance raises money

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

SYCAMORE TWP. - When Bertha McAninch's former boss at a local cafe suggested they do something to feed the hungry, her answer was to organize a dinner dance.

Six years later, the 79-year-old retired cook's tireless efforts are still going strong, raising enough money to feed hundreds of families in the Sycamore area last year.

Her good deeds have won her awards from local organizations and letters of recognition from senators and congressmen in Washington. But McAninch pushes all the hoopla aside, and says she keeps at it for one reason:

"I do it because it makes me feel good," she said this week as she prepared for the latest White Christmas Charity Dinner Dance on Dec. 6.

The money she raises - primarily by raffling off donated items at the affair - goes to Hartzell United Methodist Church, where McAninch is a member, and to St. Saviour Church in Rossmoyne, which sends it to St. Vincent DePaul Society. About 150 people are expected to attend.

"Without Bertha, there is no way we'd be able to continue helping as many as we help, and we wouldn't be able to help them as in depth as we are able to help," said Linda Ross, who is in charge of Hartzell's holiday Sharing Tree project to assist needy families.

The church received about $3,000 last year.

Few local merchants can escape McAninch, who starts collecting contributions for the next dinner dance within weeks of the last one.

Gloria D'Andrea, an administrative assistant at Sycamore Township, helps by copying the 1,500 requests for donations that McAninch mails each year using her own money.

"Bertha does a lot of good. She brings us all together," said D'Andrea.

If you go

The White Christmas Charity Dinner Dance will be Saturday, Dec. 6:

Where: Bechtold Lodge, 4312 Sycamore Road, Sycamore Township

When: 7 p.m. to midnight

Tickets: $20 each; call Bertha McAninch at 791-6026; $25 at the door.



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