Benefit cake auction raises $4K for family

PHOTO COURTESY BARRY MEARS Cheryl Hoggenmiller Turner, center, the baker of a coconut cake that brought $300 in a benefit auction, stands with her sons, from left, Conway and Drake, and organizers Barry Mears and Jennifer Rillo.

BY CAROL VAUGHN, Eastern Shore Post

Generous Eastern Shore donors and bidders raised nearly $4,000 in a cake auction to assist a family whose home was destroyed in a fire in November.

Jennifer Rillo is office manager at Ivy Farm. She started an online fundraiser after two longtime employees at the nursery, Guadalupe (better known as Pino) Romero Martinez and Marcos Romero, along with Romero Martinez’s wife and baby daughter, escaped a house fire in Parksley Nov. 18 with nothing more than the clothes on their back.

When Barry Mears heard about the need, he suggested organizing a massive cake auction, with all proceeds to benefit the Martinez family. The Onancock Elks Lodge played a key role.

Mears published photographs of scrumptious cakes, pies, and biscuits, all to be sold at auction, on his Facebook page.

Mears, among doing other good deeds, also administers the popular Facebook group, Shoreborn.

“People were so generous,” said Rillo.

Many well-known Shore cooks donated baked goods, and some online bidders paid as much as $300 for a cake, she said.

That price tag was for a coconut cake baked by Cheryl Hoggenmiller Turner.

Mears in a Dec. 10 post said this about the donors: “On behalf of the Onancock Elks Lodge.  We are humbled. The generosity of the Eastern Shore is palpable. Literally, the heartbeat of any community comes from the people that call it home.”

The cake auction pick up happened Dec. 18 at the Onancock Elks Lodge in Acccomac.

Additionally, when David Smullin of the Accomack County Sheriff’s Office heard about the Martinezes’ loss, the sheriff’s office added the family to its list of recipients for toys and other items the the office distributes each year at Christmas time.

Donations may be made for the Martinez family at

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