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Soroptimist Classy Bag Affaire Proves You Can Never Have Too Many Purses

Forty chic designer bags and novelty totes overflowing with tantalizing gifts were auctioned at the 7th Annual Classy Bag Affaire sponsored by the Soroptimist International of Santa Clara Silicon Valley (SISCSV) on Feb. 24. And the bidding was hot.

Before lunch, the guests—about 200—viewed the donated bags, which were displayed on two long rows of tables running from one end of Santa Clara Marriott Hotel’s California ballroom to the other. Handbags by Bebe, Vera Bradley, Kate Spade, Calvin Klein and Giani Bernini all held unique treasures, valued upwards from $250.

Many were paired with experiences such as horseback riding on the beach at Monterey Bay, attending 49ers games, wine tasting in the Santa Cruz Mountains, taking the family to Disneyland, throwing a child’s birthday party for 20 at a fire station and relaxing for a week in Kauai—a big ticket item valued at $1,500.


“I’m having a great time,” said first-time attendee Cathy De Maria. “I’m impressed with the generosity of the guests and their high bidding to benefit the causes the Soroptimists support.”

The total isn’t in yet for 2018, but the Soroptimists cleared $26,000 at last year’s Classy Bag Affaire.

“This is an opportunity for us to show what Soroptimist does and, through this event, we’ve gained new members as they become aware of what we do to help women and children in the world—our ultimate goal,” said SISCSV President Marilee Dunn.

Programs supported by the Soroptimists focus on women. The “Live Your Dream Award” provides funds to women returning to school while heading their households. “Dream It, Be It” gives career support to girls. The “S” Club is a Soroptimist-sponsored student service club at Wilcox High School.

The Soroptimists throw birthday parties for HomeSafe women who are survivors of domestic violence and their children. In December, club members stock a Christmas store and treat local families to a free shopping spree.

“It feels good to be around women who are making a difference. These are women that make others feel happy and good,” said Valentina Cirasola, whose book “Red: A Voyage into Colors” was a gift in one of the handbags. “Their goal is to contribute to the well being of others.”

SISCSV, chartered in 1924, has about 30 members. It meets the second Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at Mariani’s Inn & Restaurant, Santa Clara. For information, visit

“The Classy Bag Affaire was a team effort and without the passion, dedication and generosity of the members, it would have not been possible,” said Birdie Pacelli, who co-chaired the fundraiser with Linda Barber and Elizabeth Reeves. “We are the little club that could.”

The Santa Clara club is part of Soroptimist International of the Americas (, with nearly 1,275 clubs in 21 countries and territories, all working to improve the lives of disadvantaged women and girls. Through their acts of compassion, the Soroptimists bond in friendship and experience the joy of generosity.

“We love to support the Soroptimists because it’s so much fun,” said Annie Galluccio. “I’ve been coming to the Classy Bag Affaire for five years, and this is the best yet.”


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