Signing a check for charity, with love

Baltimore patron sponsors annual tennis tournament and dinner on his own terms

August 08, 2010|By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun

Herb Kasoff is an enthusiastic financial backer of Baltimore's charities who dislikes the overhead expenses associated with traditional fundraising.

Each year, Kasoff writes a check to pay for a tennis tournament and country club dinner attended by dozens of guests who, in turn, make out their own checks made payable directly to the charity. He promotes the event with fliers that state, "100 percent of the proceeds go to charity."

"I like to bring people together to have a good time," he said one day last week at his Brooklandville home. "Sometimes I spend more personally than I raise, but that's all right. I want to bring people together."

Kasoff, 70, is the retired owner of Quality Brands, a wholesale liquor, wine and beer distributorship founded by his father. He has held his annual fundraiser at the Woodholme Country Club every August for the past nine years. In the process, he has raised thousands of dollars for Baltimore-area charities, including the Hopewell Cancer Center and the Miriam Lodge.

He retired from his family business when he was 57 and dedicated much of his free time to community service. Kasoff serves on the boards of the Save-A-Heart Foundation, the Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center & Hospital and the Beth El Congregation.

"As you get older, you look at things differently," he said.

Born in Baltimore and raised on White Chapel Road in Ashburton, Kasoff says he loved his years at Forest Park High School, where he won honors on its swimming team. He also attended the University of Maryland and the University of Baltimore, where he earned a degree. He and his wife, Sandy, have been married 50 years and have three sons and eight grandchildren. He plays tennis with friends three days a week and swims laps.

Last year, he chose the League for People with Disabilities as the tournament beneficiary and raised about $10,000. This year, his Aug. 24 tennis tournament will benefit United Cerebral Palsy, a charity he selected because it was a favorite of a friend, William Hartleb, who died late last year and whose son had cerebral palsy.

After meeting Kasoff, he'll tell you in a few minutes that he does not seek out worthy causes. Nor does he solicit contributions other than the fliers he distributes. He operates on word of mouth and information he's picked up, occasionally on the tennis court.

A passionate Baltimorean, he knows the city and its needs. He is particularly vocal about the decline of locally owned businesses whose owners could be counted upon to help local charities.

"I don't go out and interview charities. I just like to do this," Kasoff said. "I often hear about the good work a charity is doing from one of my friends. That recommendation is all I need."

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