DRESS TO IMPRESS
Gala benefits regional food bank
PPeople often look forward to the holidays so they can break from their diets and gorge on filling soups, delicately carved meats and scrumptious desserts. But for many, preparing the annual Christmas meal is difficult when there isn’t much food to put on the table. To help area residents secure all the fixings for a holiday feast, a dress-toimpress benefit is being hosted later this month in downtown New London, with all the proceeds going to The Gemma E. Moran UnitedWay Labor Food Center. Second Night is an evening of dancing, music and theater set to a “Roaring Twenties” theme. Wine and hors d’oeuvres are included in the ticket price, which is being hosted in the historic Crocker House Ballroom.
Along with viewing art displays, attendees can listen to jazz music from a local band between each of three one-act plays. Each play is based on the Roaring Twenties theme. This is the second year the benefit has been held. “We just threw together some people and said ‘Let’s come up with an event,’” says Barbara Neff, one of the program’s organizers. “There’s nothing going on downtown in November right after Thanksgiving. Everyone thinks of the food bank for Thanksgiving to donate food, but right after that the food banks get empty and then we have Christmas.”
So a small group decided to organize a Friday night event that would not only be fun, but one that fits in with the beneficent theme of the season.
There are 260,000 residents in New London County and, according to Neff, 14,000 of those are helped monthly through 93 programs operating in the region. Representatives from each of the programs pick up supplies from the food center and distributes them to needy individuals and families.
The per month figure, says Neff, is up 10,000 to 11,000 people from the previous year.
The food center now distributes roughly 1.5 million pounds of food a year. Located on Broad Street, it is the third largest food bank in the state.
In 2008, a handful of area residents and business owners got together to host a fashion show at the Harris Place. The same group planned this month’s benefit. And because it’s the second year the group has worked together, they decided to use the name “2nd Night.” In its first year, more than 100 people attended the benefit. “We don’t have a goal, but we would like to raise more than last year,” says Neff. “Any little bit helps and the proceeds go right to them.”