Friday night, I ditched the blue jeans and T-shirt and donned my good black suit and tie as my wife and I attended the second annual Gala for the Children.
More than 300 people convened on the Von Canon home (the one on Sunset Drive with the giant garden in the backyard) and enjoyed amazing food, good wine and a great band.
I won’t go too much into my experience there, as my night consisted of one hour of volunteering by showing the home (which, by the way, I could totally get used to crashing in if I’m ever invited) and two more hours of meeting a bunch of people — many of whom had great things to say about the paper.
Which had me thinking, were they being nice, or are they really happy with the paper. Then I thought again … people who hate our paper have never been afraid to tell me … in public … in my face … so perhaps we’re doing all right.
Anyway, I’m posting the story written by The Herald’s Chelsea Kellner (which will appear in Sunday’s Herald) and a photo from the event taken by Dana Atkins of DWA Photography in downtown Sanford.
Second annual CIS Gala a success
By CHELSEA KELLNER
SANFORD — Throwing a party for 300 people is no easy task. Just ask Alison Poole, the executive director for Communities In Schools, which hosted its second annual Gala for the Children Friday night.
“Last year, I didn’t get to eat and I didn’t sit down all night, and I don’t expect to this year either,” Poole said early in the evening.
It took Poole and the entire 20-person CIS board eight months of planning and more than 40 volunteers to make the event happen. Not that they’re complaining — 320 tickets were sold, almost 100 more than last year, raising $42,000 for CIS projects in Lee County schools.
“At this point it’s already a success, so we just want people to have a good time for a great cause,” Poole said.
CIS is a nonprofit organization that has operated in Lee County since 2004, providing mentoring and tutoring services in schools, and specializing in dropout prevention. The Gala for the Children is CIS’s main source of revenue.
The event was held in the recently renovated Sunset Drive home of Fred Von Canon, who promised his grandmother before she died that he would live in the elegant brick house. Tours of the two-story home were given all evening by the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority from North Carolina State University.
Von Canon said he started the renovation because he wanted to add touches of his own — and since his grandmother was just under 5 feet tall, he needed to rescale things to his height. He said the gala doubled as a catalyst for him to complete the renovation.
“I finished today as of 4:30,” he said.
Guests started arriving at 6.
There was a diverse sampling of donated food from local restaurants, a dance floor, live music and a silent auction. Later in the evening, Keynote speaker Dr. Kenneth Peacock, a professor of Von Canon’s from Appalachian State University, spoke of Lee County’s commitment to education.
Everything extra needed for the event, from the chandeliers to the auction items to the gourmet candied apples, was donated by local businesses.
The gala’s organizers agreed that the night was a success. For partygoers and volunteers alike, things went smoothly — with a few exceptions.
Jeff Kopp, chef for Fresh Choice Cafe, served guests all evening, but still expected to have plenty of food left over.
“I misunderstood, and made enough for dinner for all 250 people,” he said. “I think we’re having shrimp and grits as our special on Monday.”