Three top island charity events went back-to-back-to back last week as the Boca Grande Friendship Village III fundraiser at the Boca Grande Beach Club Thursday was followed by the Barrier Island Parks Society Green Gala Friday and The Island School Tarpon Ball Saturday.
Despite the compact schedule all events continued the 2013 theme of surging Boca Grande charitable contributions generated at fundraisers held amid brilliant island weather conditions.
The largest of the charitable causes - the Boca Grande Friendship Village - had already raised $72,000 for its cause going into its Hope for Haitians Committee update party with guest speaker Angel Aloma, executive director of the Food for the Poor charity partnering with the Boca Grande group led by Ben and Louise Scott.
From left: Boca Grande Friendship Village co-chairs Ben and Louise Scott of Boca Grande, at left, greet Friendship Village residents in January visit to Haiti.
Two previous Boca Grande-based Haitian relief efforts have already provided homes for 115 earthquake-stricken families and 33 more will be housed through the $274,000 third phase of the project, Ben Scott said.
"Because of Boca Grande's hard work and generosity, Friendship Villages I and II are vibrant communities full of hope," Scott said in his report. "The lives of the Haitian families in these villages is forever changed."
The Island School gala sold an estimated 170 tickets for the tented event at the Gasparilla State Park South Beach parking lot. TIS is embarking on an enrollment drive to educate potential students and their parents about the free charter school's amenities.
Jean Thompson, first-year Head of The Island School, said the event was an eye-opener for her.
"Just the festive atmosphere and decorations far exceeded my expectations," she said. "It shows how much this community supports The Island School."
The Green Gala's swashbuckling pirate-themed party at the Boca Bay Pass Club drew more than 200 attendees, according to Sharon McKenzie, BIPS executive director and executive director of the Port Boca Grande Lighrhouse Museum.
"Oh, absolutely it met our expectations," McKenzie said. "We were a little concerned because the Tarpon Ball was the night after but we were very pleased. Everybody had a great time."
BIPS final fundraising totals from the Green Gala, which reached $35,000 a year ago, may be released at the 9:30 a.m. board meeting Monday, March 11, at Amory Chapel.
Charities held earlier in Boca Grande also reported surging donation totals:
The Tennis Ball for the Suncoast Humane Society generated a record $38,000 Jan. 23 at the Boca Grande Club.
The Taste of Boca Grande Feb. 4 at the Boca Bay Pass Club gave an unprecedented $41,000 to the Harry Chapin Food Bank this year. That brings the Taste to a 12-year total of $306,000 raised or an annual average of $25,500.
The Toast to the Coast for the Lemon Bay Conservancy topped last year's gala fundraising with $25,000, according to chairwoman Hilary Dahms.
The next big charitable event is the beloved Strawberry Festival. Chairwoman Kathi Hustedt said this year's Boca Grande United Methodist Women's annual festival on Community Center grounds Saturday, March 2, will include its famous strawberry shortcake, silent auction, bargain room, boutique shop, bake sale, used furniture and grilled foods and beverages, live and silent auctions, and a "dig" for jewelry.
Proceeds benefit women and children charities.
One of the largest island fundraisers tends to be the Hank Wright Cocktail Party and Silent Auction benefitting the Boca Grande Health Clinic. The 21st annual Hank Wright event begins at 6 p.m. Thursday April 4 at Gasparilla Inn Beach Club. Call the Foundation office at (941) 964-0099 to purchase tickets.