Red Cross Gingerbread House brunch
Creativity knows no bounds at the Red Cross annual Gingerbread House decorating brunch. Saturday's artisans went way beyond licorice rooftops and candy corn gables. Mike Gautreau slid dry ice down a graham cracker chimney for a smoky effect. Daughter Taylor, 14, decked her design with battery-powered twinkling blue lights. Their collaboration won Best Family house.
Elise Sierra earned the People's Choice award; her daughter, perennial winner Gina Sierra-Townsend, won Most Original for a purple Halloween house. Their cousin, Sonia Spot, won for Best Elf decor. (Last year, Gina won Best in Show and Sonia earned People's Choice.)
Lisa Marie Garcia won for Best Red Cross theme, her 11th year as a prizewinner. Daughter Brittany Lee Garcia's fondant Charlie Brown characters won her Best in Show. Her prize: a gingerbread house made by Culinary Arts Institute student judges.
Other notables: Most Traditional, Reagan Hering, 15; Best Youth, Colleen Markee, 5, and Cookie Rookie Amanda Killey.
David Weiss brought something special: a check for $600,000 for Superstorm Sandy victims, raised via his website, HelpMe Donate.org. "We've raised $4.6 million online for the Red Cross since 9/11," Weiss said.
St. Joseph's Women's Hospital celebrity fashion show
Georgette's Boutique's professional and celebrity models zipped down the Hyatt Regency runway in trendy graphic tops, fur vests and leggings, bikinis and ball gowns by the dozen to support St. Joseph's Women's Hospital. Event Show Productions danced with holiday cheer between style segments.
In the past 24 years, Georgette Diaz's lively fashion shows (with daughter Tashia) helped the hospital foundation raise $200,000, earning her the 2012 Philanthropic Small Business award from the Suncoast Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. This year, 650 guests raised $55,000.
Mother-daughter duos prevailed Nov. 29, including co-chairs Cherie Schon- brun and Amber Schonbrun McDonnell and models Jaimi Hovan and twins Caylinn and Cecelia, 4, and Tracy Halme and daughter Campbell, 7.
Philanthropic Women of HARC gala
"There's nothing like being part of an original,'' said actor Holly Robinson Peete, who helped Ava Napoleon and Barbara Hobbs launch Philanthropic Women of HARC (Hillsborough Achievement and Resource Centers) during a Hollywood Glam gala Nov. 30. The network will pool its donations to help adults with developmental disabilities. Peete and her husband, Rodney, a former NFL quarterback, also founded the HollyRod Foundation to help families living with autism and Parkinson's disease.
A mother of four, "one a twin who stopped talking one day," Peete reminisced about her sitcom roles on 21 Jump Street and Hangin' With Mr. Cooper, and recent slot on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice. WTVT-Ch. 13 personalities Charley Belcher and Laura Moody emceed; Bobby G. Summers played keyboard for 125 HARC supporters at TPepin's Hospitality Centre.
LAMPLighters Christmas Silver Coffee
Christmas savories, sweets and sounds filled Teresa Armas' sunny Harbour Island home where LAMPLighters and friends gathered Dec. 7 for the 23rd annual Silver Coffee. Metropolitan Ministries Partnership School children sang poolside as the women nibbled on Renee Furlong's apricot ham scones; Ginny Jopek's salmon bites and Helen Raterman's goat cheese tartlets and an array of homemade specialities organized by Peggy Nichols, maker of the marvelous madeleines.
The late Cynthia Conaty was to be the honorary chairwoman, said president Nancy Leach, hugging the devoted member's husband, Don Conaty, who came to thank the group for their support. "Cynthia's legacy is the many kids who are in college or in business because of what you do," added Metropolitan Ministries president Tim Marks.
With $35 donations requested at the door, and sales from Laura Wyatt's Ooh la la boutique, the 150 guests raised nearly $10,000 for Metropolitan Ministries.