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When everyone is mad as a hatter for tea at Glen Cove Hospital

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There are two things that always stand out at the Glen Cove Hospital Auxiliary’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party: gorgeous hats and a multitude of unique teacups. Most attendees bring their favorite teacups, from delicate English china to traditional mugs. And they work to create the most beautiful, creative hats, too. It’s all part of the fun when, once a year, the auxiliary sponsors the fundraiser, which it has been doing for seven years.

Auxiliary members and their friends and family gathered at St. Rocco’s Parish Hall last Sunday for this year’s tea, ready to compete in hat contests and bid on the large array of raffle baskets. They came to support Glen Cove Hospital, which many said they love.

Julie Albin, the fundraising chairwoman, works each year to make the day special. And she is always quick to thank others for their help. “I never met two more hard-working women than Brenda [Weck] and Judy [Barnett],” Albin said, referring to the tea committee co-chairs. “They wrapped the baskets for days.”

There is a large portrait of David Taylor at the entrance of the hospital. He was the head of the board of directors at North Shore Long Island Jewish Hospital until he died in 1995. His wife, Nancy, a lifelong Locust Valley resident, volunteers one day a week at the hospital. Being a part of Glen Cove Hospital remains important to her, she said.

“David loved the hospital and worked there even as a teenager, when Glen Cove Hospital was tiny,” Taylor said. “I care very much about the hospital. We need one in our community.”

There were 68 raffle baskets at the fundraiser. They were packed with all sorts of items, from a one-year family membership at the Glen Cove YMCA to crystal bowls. The whimsical name on the last basket, “It’s Over Thank God,” referred to how long it took to announce the winners of all the raffles — over an hour and a half. The lucky winner took home gift certificates for Mill Creek and Ben’s Kosher Deli.

But the raffles weren’t the most popular part of the day. It’s always all about the hats at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Many ladies participated, wearing their finest hats, as did a group of children. At one point during the afternoon they marched in the hat parade. Prizes were given to those wearing the most beautiful and most creative hats.

The volunteers are a friendly bunch, both among themselves and to outsiders. That might be because amiability is a large part of what they share when they volunteer at the hospital each week.

“I like that you can put a smile on someone’s face just by smiling and saying ‘Hello, how are you?’” said Patricia Schnell, of Locust Valley, who has been volunteering at the Hospital for seven years. “It’s a gift to me to be a volunteer here.”

Pam Zimmer, a lifelong Glen Cove resident, has been volunteering for three years. “I like the camaraderie of everyone who volunteers at the hospital,” she said, “and I really like speaking to the people that visit their loved ones. People tell me their story, and I’m like a sounding board for them.”

Albin said that this was her last year as chair of the event. But she will more than likely still be active in the auxiliary. “I love being with people,” she said. “I was taught that I have to give back.”