New Castle News

December 5, 2013

Photos, Story: Howard Hanna’s Chow Chow Luncheon a success once again

Dan Irwin
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Bragging rights aren’t always without a downside.

Case in point: The Chow Chow Luncheon, sponsored by the local office of Howard Hanna Real Estate. The annual event is part of a corporate-wide initiative to raise money for Children’s Hospitals Free Care Fund, and for three of the past four years, New Castle has been the company’s top fundraiser in Pennsylvania.

A year ago, the luncheon — which also includes gift baskets, raffles and Chinese auction items — raised $23,358. And, according to local office manager Sam Angelucci, yesterday’s 2013 version at the New Englander Banquet Center was well on its way to similar success.

“This is the largest one-day event Howard Hanna has,” Angelucci said, “and we’ve had 400 guests come through the door already in just the first hour (of the three-hour celebration).”

The luncheon has grown exponentially from its 1996 beginnings in the local Howard Hanna office, and while that has made it an annual triumph, it’s also created logistical challenges.

“We’re almost too big now,” Angelucci said. “We used to have entertainment, but we don’t do that any more because we just can’t afford the space. We had cloggers a few years ago and we had to take out a couple of tables to give them space, and we just can’t do that now.

“The one complaint that we get is that people who come on their lunch hour sometimes can’t get their food and get back in an hour. It’s like Yogi Berra — nobody comes because it’s too crowded. But these are good problems to have.”

Dealing with those hurdles, Angelucci said, have been Mary Ann Motas, Diane Flamino and Judy Fedor. “They are the backbone of the event,” he said. “They make it run like a well-oiled machine.”

But the biggest help comes from outside the office.

“One thing that’s unique to us is that our competitors donate to our event,” Angelucci said. “That doesn’t happen with any of the other offices. That just goes to show you what kind of community we have; the kids are the most important thing.”

Visiting the New Castle event for her third time yesteday was Laura Swisher, director of annual giving for the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation. The hospital is one of two (the other is Akron Children’s Hospital at St. Elizabeth’s) supported by the New Castle event.

“It’s fantastic; I wouldn’t miss it,” she said. “All of the (Howard Hanna) events are wonderful. There’s a really great spirit, and at each one, the agents really get involved to know their community and know what will get people to come out.

“This is my third time year, and I get to see the same faces and have gotten to know some of the people. And I know I have to do a little exercise. I got up at 5 o’clock this morning to go to spinning class, because I know there are going to be a lot of cookies (more than 200 dozen, Angelucci said). Don’t tell anyone, but I had five of them for lunch.”