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Festival benefits HCC

by Marina Fleming
Public Relations
Some volunteers for the Hollings Cancer Center possess a special talent few people know about. They are skilled oyster dancers.
Hollings Cancer Center’s development intern Amanda Tissue, HCC volunteer Sarah Williams, and Aparna Choudhury, grants assistant at HCC, help serve more than 5,000 cups of cocktail sauce.

Just ask Aparna Choudhury, the grants assistant for the Clinical Trials Office at HCC, who was one of the volunteers that manned the 27th Annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival at Boone Hall Plantation last month. She said it was a special dance the volunteers had to do when the oysters were running low and new supplies were needed. It was one of many skills the nearly 40 volunteers used as they fed the masses. Whether it was serving up cocktail sauce or pushing thousands of pounds of oyster shells, the volunteers helped the festival be a huge success.
Choudhury said that participating in the oyster roast was a nice way to give back and be part of the experience. “The Greater Charleston Restaurant Association makes it so easy to volunteer,” she said. “They take care of their volunteers and promote a sense of fun.”
In 1995, HCC board member Phyllis F. Shaffer initiated a partnership with GRCA, the main sponsor of the Lowcountry Oyster Festival, and with the Taste of Charleston. Since then, HCC has received a portion of both events’ ticket sales.
A volunteer packs steamed oysters to distribute to guests at the Lowcountry Oyster Festival. The festival marks the 15th year that HCC has been a beneficiary of the event.

The 2010 oyster festival marked the 15th year that HCC has been a beneficiary of the event, with the association having donated almost $80,000 to HCC since that partnership began. The funds benefit HCC patients through research, education and outreach programs and services. In appreciation of the GRCA’s generosity, HCC provides volunteers each year to help out with the event, said Shaffer.
Volunteers helped with everything from working the steamers that prepared the 65,000 pounds of oysters to distributing bracelets for identification checks. The volunteers also are needed to help with the crowds. The festival averages around 11,000 guests yearly and claims the title of being one of the “top 20 events in the Southeast” by the Southeastern Tourism Society.
Shaffer said that the partnership would not be what it is today without the committed volunteers. “We have about 10-12 volunteers that have been out there every year for the past 17 years,” she said.
“It has been a wonderful marriage between the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association and Hollings,” said Shaffer. “Working with Hollings has given the restaurant community a great concern for our organization, and they’ve been a tremendous help over the years.”

Friday, Feb. 12, 2010

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