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THIS WEEK'S FEATURED STORIES

A house to share: Couple open their home to fundraisers

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Earlier this month, Richard and Caroline Drummond had around 350 people milling around their home at Prince George.

Their back yard and elegantly decorated gardens were the site of a garden party to raise money for Miss Ruby’s Kids, a nonprofit group that focuses on early-childhood literacy. It was a successful event, raising around $75,000.

It was the fourth year they hosted the fundraiser and one of many times the couple, who will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in October, have opened their extensive grounds for charity since they finished building the house six years ago.

For Caroline, it’s a labor of love, and it’s one of the things she had in mind when the house and grounds were designed.

“It’s a house to share,” she said. “I thoroughly enjoy being hostess. I just love it. I love sharing my home and I meet a lot of new people, too.”

If she and her husband can give back to the community and help a worthy cause in the process, well, that makes it even more of a joy.

In addition to Miss Ruby’s Kids, the Drummonds also support the Georgetown County Cultural Council, having hosted an Ice Cream Sunday social for the group in the past.

Next month, they’ll welcome in another crowd when they host an art auction to raise money for construction of a new Waccamaw Library. That’s a cause they’re supporting for the first time.

“I’ve always used libraries, but never really gotten involved like this,” Caroline said. But there was no question it was a cause worth getting involved in. That’s the only real criteria they have for deciding which causes to aid.

“You just have to ask and we’ll do it if it’s a worthy cause,” Rich said.

The Drummonds usually have two fundraisers at their home annually, and Caroline also throws a big Christmas Party every year.

Though they’ve only lived at Prince George for six years, they moved to Georgetown County from New Jersey, where they had a plant in East Hanover, in 1993. They own several companies, including Con-Serv, a manufacturing company in Georgetown, and spend a lot of time traveling which somewhat limits how many events they can host.

Caroline likes the library project because it’s one that benefits the entire community, she said.

“I think it’s good for the community — for children, for adults and for senior citizens.”

The county will build a new library in Litchfield next year and plans to have it open in 2014. The question is if it will be big enough to truly meet the community’s needs.

The county has budgeted $3.5 million in its capital improvement plan for a new library. That will fund a 17,000-square-foot building, but 27,000 square feet is the minimum recommended size for a library in a community with a population the size of that on the Waccamaw Neck. That would cost $6 million, and the Friends of the Waccamaw Library have been working tirelessly to raise money toward that goal.

The extra funds would allow the library to include amenities such as public meeting rooms, an auditorium and adequate space for programs for children and teens.

The art auction is the Friends group’s latest attempt to bridge the funding gap.

Set for June 23, the event will be a combination live and online auction.

“I don’t know how they’re going to do that, but it should be interesting,” Rich said.

The auction pieces will be set up in the Drummonds’ four-car garage, which was also designed with events and entertaining in mind. Even with the Drummonds’ vehicles and several golf carts parked inside, there’s still plenty of room in the space and it doesn’t look anything like the images conjured by the word “garage.”

One of the volunteers with Miss Ruby Kids recently teased Caroline about that, saying the Drummonds’ is a “party garage,” not a “real garage.”

Hundreds of chairs will be set up in front of the garage and attendees will be equipped with paddles to raise as they bid. Caroline clearly has a vision for the event and intends for it to be a memorable affair.

Joe Exxum will serve as auctioneer.

Up for bid will be an impressive line-up of items, including works by successful, deceased artists including David Bellucci, Tallulah McInvaill, Kathy Metts and Elizabeth O’Neill Verner. Contemporary artists and instructors have also committed to donate major pieces. Among them are Danny McLaughlin, Barnie Slice, Jef Sturm, Kathy Welde and Jane Woodward.

Framed original paintings are being accepted for the auction, as well as photography and glass, clay, metal, wood and fabric artwork.

All items up for bid will be viewable online before the event, Caroline said.

Of course, the Drummonds’ gardens will also be open, which are a form of art themselves. Ornamented with statuary, the gated gardens are set up on rolling hills between the Drummonds’ home and a natural beaver pond on the property offering a exquisite view. A koi pond and babbling brook are built into the gardens.

“It’s grown every year, a little more and more. The fence started out back there,” Caroline said, gesturing to indicate how the gardens’ boundaries have moved.

Getting the gardens ready and getting as many people as possible excited about coming out are the biggest parts of preparing for fundraisers, according to Caroline. Then it’s deciding where everything goes — carving stations, dessert stations and bars for example.

“Other than that, our house is always prepared,” she said.

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