Last year’s Old Bag Luncheon has come up a rung in society, reincarnated this year as the 2016 Classy Bag Affaire. The annual charity luncheon and bag auction is organized by two philanthropic organizations–Soroptimist International of Santa Clara Silicon Valley (SISCSV) and Kappa Theta chapter of Epsilon Sigma Alpha International sorority.
This fifth annual joint fund-raiser, held Feb. 27 at David’s Restaurant and Banquet Facility, Santa Clara, was attended by 214 women (and a few good men). They were out with friends to have fun spending money in support of social and economic programs to improve the lives of women and girls.
The event, which netted $19,704 profit in 2015, raises money in a novel way. Forty-seven new or gently-used designer bags are filled with other donated items and auctioned. This year, auction sales alone brought in $22,100, and donations from all sources totaled $31,300, before expenses.
A few bags were a steal. A Prada bag and sunglasses, valued at $2,000, sold for $750. The top purse–which included a week’s trip to Lake Tahoe and was valued at $2,260–sold for $1,600.
The bidding got hot for a red leather SAK cross-body bag containing $100 gift cards for Nordstrom, Macy’s and Santana Row and accompanied by a bottle of Louis Martini cabernet. Modestly valued at $370, everything went for $600 to high bidder Deborah York.
“I always wanted a red bag–a certain red–and that was it. And it’s for a great cause,” says York, grateful to get the bag at any price.
“We’ve got a fashionista here!” says auctioneer Peter Anning, a retired Mission College Marketing and Public Relations Consultant who has volunteered at all five fundraisers.
“I have the personality to work a crowd and keep people laughing,” says Anning when asked how he became the auctioneer.
“Birdie is our creative genius. She put auction items together to look appealing,” says Marilee Dunn, co-chair of the Classy Bag Affaire with Birdie Pacelli and Debi Davis.
“My house was a factory for two weeks,” says Pacelli, adding, “We’re just a small club, and all the members work hard. We’re called ‘the little club that could.’ Marilee gave her heart and soul to this event.”
“This is my first time to come. It’s a fund raiser for a good cause, and you have fun and have the possibility of winning something,” says first time attendee Victoria Escobar, summing up the Classy Bag Affaire.
Seventy guests won door prizes, and more than a dozen won opportunity drawing baskets provided by Kappa Theta.
Locally, SISCSV supports a Christmas store for needy families, Wilcox High School’s “S” service club, birthday parties for victims of domestic violence and Live Your Dream scholarships for women heads of households entering the workforce.
One of the lucky men at the lunch, Steven Meneses, Chief Advancement Officer at San Jose/Evergreen Community College District Foundation, commented on the importance to the community of philanthropic nonprofits supporting one another’s efforts to enable financially challenged students to pursue their academic goals.
“These students will stay within a 50-mile radius of where they went to school, so we’ll have a trained workforce to serve our community,” says Meneses.
“The Soroptimists don’t get attention like some groups do. We don’t have the name recognition,” says twenty-five-year SISCSV member Joan Kirkpatrick. “But if you want to help your community in a hands-on way, this is a wonderful organization to join, and you’ll make life-long friendships in addition to helping others.”
“I like working with nonprofits because I know it makes a difference,” says Kryslin Franks, graphic designer/ print manager for UPS Store 4636, 2784 Homestead Rd., which did the graphic designs for the Classy Bag Affaire.
“Although I don’t have a lot of money, I can give something back–my time and creativity,” says Franks.
Soroptimist is a coined word with Latin roots, meaning “best for women.” The first soroptimist club, which began in Oakland, CA, in 1921, was organized by women who wanted to serve their community but were not allowed to join men’s service groups.
The SISCSV chapter, chartered in 1924, has close to 30 members. Meetings are the second Wednesday of the month, 6:30 p.m., at Mariani’s Inn & Restaurant, Santa Clara. For information, visit the international website: www.soroptimist.org. For Epsilon Sigma Alpha International, visit www.epsilonsigmaalpha.org.