The Silicon Valley Voice

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Soroptimist Has Successful Fundraiser in the Bag

Most nonprofits hold multiple fundraisers throughout the year to benefit their causes. However, Soroptimist International of Santa Clara Silicon Valley is not your average nonprofit. Their annual Classy Bag Affaire event is their sole fundraiser. And, thanks to their generous supporters and their hard-working members, the Classy Bag Affaire raises the funds to support their many endeavors.

The Classy Bag Affaire held on March 16 had a record number of guests — 220 versus last year’s 205. The bighearted guests bought raffle tickets to, hopefully, win baskets filled to the brim with goodies. The raffle baskets directly benefitted causes like the Santa Clara Blind Center and the Soroptimist’s Live Your Dream program — this year the Live your Dream program is awarding $11,000 to four women.

“With the profits from the Classy Bag Affaire, we can fund four ladies who are head of household and returning to the workforce,” said Soroptimist International of Santa Clara Silicon Valley President Marilee Dunn. “One is studying to become a chiropractor, another will go into educating children, one will work with people recovering from drug and alcohol abuse, and the other will get a degree in business administration”


This year’s Classy Bag Affaire is the 8th in the organization’s history. When guests checked in at the Santa Clara Marriot, they were automatically entered for a chance at over 50 door prizes and given a paddle with a number on it so they can bid on the bag (or bags) of their choice. Dunn says if you want a good bargain, bid on one of the first five bags.

The bags had enticing themes like “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” — a San Francisco Giants themed bag with an autographed photo of Pablo Sandoval, game tickets, and more, which sold to Santa Clara Parks and Recreation Commissioner Roseann LaCoursiere.

Other familiar Santa Clara faces included Mayor Lisa Gillmor; Council Members Kathy Watanabe, Debi Davis, and Karen Hardy; Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors’ Susan Ellenberg; Santa Clara City Manager Deanna Santana; and Santa Clara Unified School District Board Vice President Jodi Muirhead.

The most familiar face? Peter Anning — affectionally called Classy Bag Affaire’s Auctioneer Extraordinaire. Anning charitably donates his time and seemingly endless energy to auction off dozens of bags every year.

The bags and their desirable contents are the hard work of the Soroptimist members. Their jobs? To help collect new or lightly used bags and collect the goodies for the bags’ fillings or reach out to donors who help contribute.

“Everyone is involved, or else,” joked Dunn.

For example, there was a bag whose theme was “United Kingdom Tea and Spirits,” which was the brainchild of Classy Bag Affaire co-chair Debbie Tryforos. Also, many of the bags sported handmade afghans made by co-chair Carolyn Cummings — a blue afghan that paired beautifully with the “Feeling Blue” bag took Cummings about a month to make.

A record breaking 44 bags went home with new owners and thousands of dollars were raised to fund Soroptimist’s causes. The 2018 Classy Bag Affaire raised over $40,000 that went directly to Soroptimist programs.

Soroptimist’s Girls Who Code program serves three Santa Clara libraries. The program for girls aged 12 through 18 is in their third year.

“It is so exciting to see the robots and work that each team will compete at the end of the year with their presentation and graduation,” said Dunn.

In addition to Girls Who Code, Soroptimist also supports two Home Safe facilities in Santa Clara and Sunnyvale and their biggest charitable event is their annual Christmas Store. The store benefits over 100 families and about 300 children who live below the poverty line in Santa Clara.

To learn more about Soroptimist International of Santa Clara Silicon Valley and their future events visit


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