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Work To Do December 20, 2009

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Ibiza, Amalfi, St. Tropez, The Hamptons. Last night’s charity event at Galleria Marchetti in the chic River West neighborhood for Grant A Wish, Inc., rivaled the ambiance of any of those posh locations with the amount of panache and sophistication represented by our guests. The Tuscan themed space was awash in warm terra cottas and adorned with custom made sconces and globe fixtures of wrought iron and imported glass to compliment the Carerra marble floors. Tables were elegantly draped with white linen and dainty tealights in frosted holders.  Potted cyprus trees accentuated the beautifully carved mahogany doors. Light holiday  jazz instrumentals played in the background as people milled about, laughing, connecting and generally having a good time. The bar was stocked with several imported and domestic wines and top shelf spirits, liqueurs and cordials.

Food was catered to perfection featuring a varied menu of crudites, pastas, barbecued turkey bites, lasagna, honey glazed smoked wings and a deliciously decadent desert table of petit fours, tortes and cheescake cups. Cappucino and espresso were available also.

Fashions were a mixture of urban hip, dress casual and cocktail attire. Since I am a known consignment shop addict and tend to put together classic looks that are somewhat edgy yet not staid or pretentious, I decided this occasion called for a bit of a splurge in the choice of wardrobe .  Hitting the closet, I chose an Adrian Vittadini  above the knee suede pencil skirt, a silk taffeta cuffed scooped neck Donna Karan blouse and black patent and suede t-strap shoes by Jimmy Choo, topped with a black suede fedora and wide black belt.

Our toy donation table brimmed with a bounty of gifts and a raffle was held as well, offering spa days, lunch with Chicago Bears’ Adrian Peterson and other treats. Through a twist of fate and the wrath of Mother Nature, the Bears weren’t able to appear due to a major snowstorm in Baltimore, where they are scheduled to play on Sunday. This meant that they needed to fly out prematurely to try and beat the weather or risk forfeiting an important game. All of that and they still wound up sitting on the tarmac for hours.

The plus side is that arrangements were made for CBS Channel Two’s Jim Williams to do a story about our predicament.  A side benefit is that he personally offered to bring toys to our offices on Sunday.  Other offers of assistance have been trickling in, including one from a man who remembered the kindness of Anne Blair, the founder, to his family in 1983 and wanted to reciprocate.

I have never felt the true meaning of Christmas more deeply than this year.

http://cbs2chicago.com/video/?id=65738@wbbm.dayport.com

Person to Person December 15, 2009

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Today was a 12 hour day, not including the the couple of extra hours spent on correspondence and other tasks once I arrived home.

On the non profit front as Head Elf/Coordinator, I led volunteers in a toy pickup  from Toy Box Connection in Oak Lawn in correlation with our annual Holiday Gift Program and toy drive.

We arrived with a seventeen foot U-Haul to load up every conceivable gadget, bauble, knickknack, plaything, trinket and novelty known to man. If it chimed, sqauwked, squeeked, chirped, beeped, trilled, rang, buzzed, lit up, talked, morphed, sparkled, spun, rolled, bounced or stacked, then I’ve seen it. There’s absolutely no doubt that these delightful items, most gauged for the toddler set, brought out the kid in our staff, myself included.

Delivering the items to our headquarters building to be sorted and cataloged provided everyone a chance to revisit simpler times.

Every inch of floor, desk and table space normally utilized for the food pantry was filled with gifts that will go to our clients who are referred by a list of twenty-two community based agencies that our Wish Committee chooses to assist.  These items will then be delivered to each agency, ie; daycare, church, boys and girls club, etc., to be distributed to the children at a party at each facility.

The warm camaraderie, the relatively mild (for Chicago) weather, and especially the kind generosity of our volunteers and Michele Maika of Toy Box Connection made today a completely successful operation.  I think my ears are starting to get a little pointy. Anybody seen my green suit?

Speed Dial No. 2 December 12, 2009

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I’ve been burning the candle at both ends this holiday season, juggling work and philanthropic projects.  My latest research assignment was for a major pet food company’s packaging redesign. Before that, I was involved with a group of caretakers that are also family members of schizophrenic patients that were prescribed an anti-psychotic drug. The client is looking to expand on an existing ad campaign.  Pretty heavy.

On the non profit front I was present for the delivery of 150 toys from the good people at Fremd High School in Palatine to the little ones at Shining Star Daycare Center.  Fremd students read stories to the children and took pictures. Thank you everyone who was involved.  We have our Toy Drive in place for  December 18, 2009. Lots of Chicago  Bears and other kind hearted sponsors  have offered to help us out. A special thanks to Prinses Hemphill of Celebrity Events. I affirm and claim it to be successful beyond our wildest hopes and dreams.

GAW Toy_Drive-1