Angels Among Us Kicks Off Holiday Season With Safe Celebration
by James Coulter
Last year, Girls Inc. of Winter Haven moved their annual holiday fundraiser from Arabella’s to Venue 650. This year, they certainly put the extra space to good use, as it allowed their guests optimal social distancing.
The local non-profit organization hosted their annual holiday fundraiser, Angels Among Us, on Tuesday evening. Attendees could get an early start celebrating the holiday season by sampling tasty treats from The Catering Co., bidding on silent auction items, and donating money by hanging angel ornaments on the big Christmas tree.
Due to these uncertain times, Girls Inc. took extra precautions to ensure their guests enjoyed safe holiday fun. Central Florida Health Care volunteers conducted temperature checks. Masks were encouraged, but not required. Fewer auction items were placed on tables spread further apart, and every guest was provided their own pen to bet on items. Hand sanitizer were distributed in gift bags.
“As far as [social] distancing…people are being respectful of others, which is what we were hoping for, and it has been a good turnout thus far,” said Peggy Threlkel, Executive Director of Girls Inc.
Threlkel loves the overall holiday spirit of the annual fundraiser. Every year, her organization has hosted it to promote holiday cheer among its supporters, as well as to raise proceeds for itsmany operations and programs.
“People are always in a positive mood and enjoying each other’s companies, and being able to get ready and have a good time,” Threlkel said. “People enjoy the event, they enjoy being able to prepare for the holidays. We held it around the same time for a number of years. And people enjoy being able to come together and support an organization in the community and get ready for the holidays.”
Founded in 1948, Girls Inc. of Winter Haven, according to its website, is “a national non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold….[It] has provided vital educational programs to millions of American girls, particularly those in high-risk, underserved areas.”
More than 100 local girls from 14 local schools are served daily during its after-school tutoring and educational program, ensuring that they receive a well-rounded education with academic and social skills.
Kim Hulverson, the chair of the event, has been involved with Girls Inc. for approximately eight years. She appreciates the support the organization provides young girls within the community, and she loves being able to provide additional support by participating within the annual fundraiser.
“I just want to thank everyone for coming and for their support because without them, we could not do what we could do,” she said. “I think it is phenomenal considering everything we are going through in spite of COVID. In fact, people are coming out to support it. It is the first live event that has happened this year.”
John Wood, President of John Wood Realty, has been a longtime supporter of Girls Inc. His own parents were once longtime supporters, and he has since continued their legacy by supporting the organization.
Even amidst these uncertain times, he was still able to attend the annual fundraiser that evening. People may have been more hesitant this year, but just as many attendees came out to eat good food and enjoy a good time, he said.
“We are glad to support their efforts,” he said. “I think the organization has had good results. For that reason, we have been very satisfied with being a supporter.”