Festive CWL Spring Gala Fundraiser Helps Support Buncombe County Students

Children's Welfare League

By Dasha Morgan- Saturday, April 6, is the date for The Asheville Spring Gala, which is being held at the Crowne Plaza Expo Center. The Center will be decorated with a plethora of flower and garden embellishments.

Robin Ramsey Corp. Chair, Binford Jennings President, Sheila Elingburg 1st VP pose during last year’s Spring Gala Ball.

This well attended festive event includes a silent and live auction, all donated by local businesses and CWL members, raffle tickets, a delicious dinner including a signature cocktail by Cultivated Cocktails, with dancing to the well known Atlanta band “Cashmere.” Tickets for this black tie Spring Gala are $125.00 per person.

Joanna Best is this year’s Gala Chairman. She has been working all year to create a joyous evening to remember—with her committee of 11 volunteers. Of course, there is a flurry of extra activity by the League at large needed in the two weeks preceding the Gala evening.

After more than 30 years as the Mardi Gras Ball, last year the CWL changed the event name to The Asheville Spring Gala. Best hopes “that the flowers and garden embellishments are an inspiration and reflective of growth to come, just as the League is trying to inspire growth for its Buncombe County students. The level of generosity of the Gala attendees determine the level of impact we can have as an organization.” TV Screens are well placed to see the power point presentation, with testimonials of the many Children Welfare League activities and presentations by school counselors.

As Best says, “The CWL’s charity work is quietly done but has a huge impact. The recipient students in the Buncombe County high schools do not know who we are, nor we they.”

Alice Griffin is the Decorating Chairman and has an able assistant in her daughter, Ashley Griffin Wineinger. Hundreds of blooming plants in pinks, yellow and white have to be delivered to the Crowne Plaza Expo Center on the day of the event and artfully arranged—on tables, near the dance floor, and podiums. In addition a number of floral bouquet arrangements are being offered in the silent auction. Griffin has been working with Green Outdoors, who is loaning, delivering and picking up a large amount of outdoor shrubs.

Dr. Jeff & Donna Loftin and Dr. Keith & Susan Black attended the festive 2018 Spring Gala.

First Step Farm is kindly donating ferns; Gudger’s Flowers, roses. She is most grateful to Ingles Supermarket, who has generously made a contribution of 50 pink azaleas in 6” pots, 50 English ivy plants, 20 Boston ferns and 20 tropical parlor palms, all of which can be sold and donated to the fundraising event. On the evening of April 6th the Center will be overflowing with beautiful blooming flowers, so the attendees can visit with friends, dance and enjoy themselves while contributing to a worthy cause.

The Gala is offering a number of live auction packages, as well as silent auction items for sale.

Darron Meares of BowTie Benefits Auction is the auctioneer. Bidding undoubtedly will be intense for these extraordinary opportunities. Examples of live auction packages include: a 3-night stay at a beautiful Lake James house; a 4-night stay at a lovely house in Hot Springs (sleeps 17); a 5-night stay at a high rise condo in Naples, Florida; a Harrah’s Cherokee package for overnight stay, and ACC basketball tickets including a 2-night stay in Raleigh.

Some of the donated silent auction items include: 2 tickets to ‘Waitress’ at the Peace Center with dinner; His and Her RayBan sunglasses from Asheville Eye Associates; a beautiful oriental rug from Togar Rugs; Gift certificates from the fashionable stores, Lucy Anne and Lilly Pulitzer; rounds of golf from several elite courses in WNC. Then “A Taste of Asheville” table will have gift certificates to many of the area’s great culinary experiences. You can purchase a certificate from Chestnut, Strada, Glass Onion, 131 Main, and Ultra Coffee Café and Bar. What an extraordinary assortment of auction items! There is something for everyone.

Bert Robinson, Lucy Rixey, and Leslie Morris.

Formed by a group of philanthropic members in 1925, The Children’s Welfare League (CWL) is a volunteer organization whose mission is to promote the education and welfare of disadvantaged students in the high schools of Buncombe County. With approximately 103 active members and 130 associate members, the CWL has no staff, no office, and no paid director. This year’s President is Binford Jennings, who has the strong participation and support of her Board. They are all volunteers and work tirelessly all year long for the community’s benefit.

The CWL is a tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) organization. Member’s dues cover all overhead, and their once-a-year Auction/Ball strives to raise $150,000 to provide help for kids whose parental support is restricted or non-existent. Kids who, by no fault of their own, are unable to partake in school programs that are beyond their economic capacity, like the need for regulation shoes for athletics or participating in statewide conventions for ‘would-be’ valedictorians and future community leaders.

Guidance Counselors and Social Workers in all 10 public Buncombe County & Asheville City High Schools select for the CWL disadvantaged students who are hard-working and determined to stay in school, often against all odds. The monthly stipend is meant to provide not only money, but the knowledge that someone supports their success and their desire to rise to their highest potential. This seems to outweigh the financial side, according to the school counselors. “Knowledge of people who care enough to help them consistently, over time, gives them hope and has the greatest value to the kids.”

Corporate Donors fund college scholarships at AB Tech and UNC-A, as well as special requests brought to the CWL board of directors during the school year. This is an important part of the CWL’s program. Current corporate sponsors are AVL Technologies, Beverly-Hanks Realty, Blossman Gas, Chaddick Foundation, Dave Steel Company, Duke Progress Energy, Hampton Inn/Homewood Suites, Hometrust Bank, Liz Colton in Memory of Marie Colton, and the Woodson Family Foundation.

They have generously contributed significantly to the organization. To donate as a corporate sponsor simply get in touch with Robin Ramsey, Corporate Giving Chair, Children’s Welfare League, P.O Box 15425, Asheville, NC., 28813 (828) 230-2665.

After learning about the local crisis of homelessness in the area, the CWL began providing homeless students with transportation aid, as many students work jobs while remaining in school, and are responsible for younger siblings getting to and from daycare, etc. The CWL also buys sturdy backpacks at the beginning of the school year, kindly discounted by Diamond Brand, to give to students who otherwise would not have one and attempt to carry their books in a plastic grocery bag. These extra efforts for the well-being of the students have made a real difference, too.

Dating back to the 1920’s, the CWL has raised funds for children through an annual ball (except for two years during the Great Depression and two years during World War II). Balls have included The Circus Ball, The Cinderella Ball, The Wonderland Ball, The Tropicana Ball, The Snow Ball, The Top Hat Ball and The Mardi Gras Ball. Now the fundraiser is called The Asheville Spring Gala!

For more information or to donate to the CWL, go to the website

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