Potomac’s Ron Furman has big ideas for his little house.
Furman — the president of American National Properties, and his wife Joan Furman bought a miniature house in a charity auction in Florida last year.
It was one of six built and donated by major Florida home builders and sold at the auction to raise money for the non-profit Children in Distress. The houses are not just hollow wooden playhouses but real houses scaled down, with electricity, air conditioning, glazed glass windows and stone inlay.
The Furmans planned to use their acquisition for charity fund-raisers, but they weren’t sure how to get started. Then Hurricane Katrina hit.
“We always thought somewhere in our hearts that it would be great to continue the use of it for charity. But we really didn’t know what to do,” Ron Furman said. “As soon as this disaster happened, we knew what we wanted to do. So we’re now calling it the donation house.”
The idea is to leverage the interest the house generates to collect donations and advertise charity events. Furman is organizing an Oct. 1 community carnival and concert at his house on Query Mill Road to raise money for the American Red Cross’ Katrina relief efforts.
The eight-by-eight-foot house has been on display in front of Safeway in Potomac Village along with a banner advertising the event and has sometimes been staffed by volunteers collecting money for the Red Cross.
THE FAIR WILL include carnival rides, games, face painting for children, a casino, horseshoe and croquet tournaments for adults, an auction, and food and live music. Volunteers will collect an entry donation of $25 per car. Activities within the carnival will be substantively free, but each one will have collection boxes for additional donations, with a minimum of one penny.
Costs for the event — including renting the carnival and casino attractions, renting portable toilets, and hiring a band — are already nearing $8,000, but Furman stressed that all of the money collected at the event will go directly to the American Red Cross. Businesses and individuals are helping to underwrite the costs.
The Furmans decided to include an afternoon talent show as part of the entertainment, and are seeking high school musicians and performers to participate.
“We don’t know if we’re going to have 100 or 1,000 people. There’s no way to know,” he said.
WHEN THE KATRINA fund-raiser has passed, the Furmans have no plans to retire the “Donation House.”
They are planning another drive to raise money for children in Africa, and said they hope a successful Katrina event will inspire other charity groups to find ways to leverage the house to raise money in the future. Interested groups can call the Furmans to make arrangements.