A change of name and venue sparked excitement for the 14th annual fundraiser for the Christ Child Society of Naples (CCS). Now named the Red Wagon Gala to better reflect the focus and mission of the organization dedicated to helping underprivileged children in Collier County, the Gala, this was held on Wednesday, April 4, at the Port Royal Club.
"Mermaids" Hannah and Natalie Anderson, dressed in shimmering sea-creature costumes, greeted the arriving guests. On the porch overlooking the Gulf, silent auction tables were popular as partygoers bid to win "must have" items. The "mermaids" also helped sell raffle tickets for a baroque pearl necklace donated by Bigham Jewelers, one of the Christ Child Society's supporters.
As they sat down to a seated dinner, guests were serenaded by a chorus of children from Grace Place, an organization supported by CCS. Led by director Sara King, the fourth and fifth graders sang a medley of songs including "Lend a Helping Hand." Each table was centered by a miniature red wagon, filled with spring flowers and children's books, echoing the red, yellow and white décor.
President Terry Schrantz and Gala Chairwoman Kathi Glass thanked all attendees for their participation and spoke about the importance of the Christ Child Society mission: "Our work to help children in poverty is so vital," said Glass.
A lively and animated auction, led by auctioneer Scott Robertson, raised more than $45,000. A unique feature of the evening was a "Fund The Need" project. Guests were asked to donate specifically to a special CCS project, funding scholarships for summer camp programs for children in need, extending their learning experiences throughout the nonschool period. Happy donors sported twinkling necklaces and soon the room was alight. Numbers aren't final but the society expects to exceed its goal of $100,000.
A chapter of the national organization, the Christ Child Society of Naples was established 14 years ago. Funds raised at the Red Wagon Gala support our 200 plus volunteers as they continue to improve infant care by distributing layettes and providing training to new mothers; address basic needs by collaborating with organizations to provide beds and bedding for children; assist homeless shelters by providing clothing, personal items and toys for the children; provide funds and volunteers to support various children's school programs and more. For more information, visit the website at www.christchildnaples.org