I've shared on here and social media a TON about a charity gala I help coordinate. The gala was this past Saturday at the Washington Hilton here in DC.
I wanted to share a little recap with y'all about the weekend, and share some more photos that weren't featured on social media. But first, y'all are probably wondering what Taste of the South is. I did explain it a few times, but for those who want a recap or for those who are hearing about this for the first time... here's a quick synopsis.
I got involved with Taste of the South three years ago. It's one of the largest charity galas in the District, and is hosted by 13 southern states. Including Texas, Missouri and Virginia!! The gala was created to bring a little "taste" of the south to our nation's capital, while at the same time giving back to the states many of us are originally from. Combine great southern food, with a LIVE band, silent auction and southern swag... and you have created one of the most sought after tickets in town! Seriously. We sold out in less than 25 minutes this year!
The gala raises money for 14 charities total. One for each state + a local DC charity. Each year the planning committee chooses one state to be "featured" and receive the majority of the proceeds for their charity. My home state of Tennessee was given this honor this year!! It's a HUGE deal for our charity, Camp Koinonia.
Camp K (as it's also known) is a week-long therapeutic recreation camp for children, ages 7-21, with multiple disabilities. The camp is hosted by 200 University of Tennessee students, and allows campers the opportunity to do things like camping and horseback riding. Things they normally wouldn't get the chance to do otherwise. I was actually a camp counselor my senior year at UT, so this charity is ESPECIALLY near and dear to my heart!! I was so excited to have representatives from Camp K in DC this week to celebrate with us, including this year's camp director and a fellow counselor with me when I was at UT, Macie!
Now that you know a little more about the gala and our charity, it'll make the rest of today's post easier to understand.
Last Thursday we kicked off the festivities for gala week by hosting a congressional reception with our large donors and a few Members of Congress. The reception allows our donors to also meet with the gala planning committee and our charity representatives.
A BIG special thank you to Pinstripes BBB, Cotton & Reed, and Dog Tag Bakery. for providing all of the food and beverages for the reception.
The gorgeous room we had for the reception
Myself and two other girls, Alex and Ashton, help coordinate the fundraising and various details for the state of Tennessee.
Saturday the day was FINALLY here!!!
We woke up early to head to the Hilton for setup. Setting up the party is a HUGE production, but we thankfully have many fabulous companies and volunteers who help coordinate all of the details and decor.
Each state arrived to setup their donated swag on the tables. We also helped the production company decorate our state tables and overall decor.
The gala theme this year was a "Southern Wonderland," which was a play on Alice in Wonderland. Each state table had a smaller encompassing theme, and Tennessee's was the madhatter tea party. So we pulled from that to create "Tennessee Tea Time." We had greenery, hanging gold tea pots and tea cups, large hedges and lots of flowers. We added gold accents in bird cages and various other decor. We surrounded all of this by our swag items.
Special thanks to Mars Candy, Inc. for all of the M&Ms, Kendra Scott, Dead End BBQ, Central BBQ, Sundrop, Jack Daniels, The University of Tennessee, and various other swag donors for participating in this year's event.
Here's the final look of the Tennessee booth.
After we finished setting up, my sorority little sister and I headed up to our hotel room to rest. Randi, my Sigma Kappa Little Sister, came all the way up from Nashville to celebrate with me. It was so much fun having her here and getting to hangout for the weekend.
We took a nap, and then it was time to get ready!
We both put on our gowns and headed to the hotel courtyard to snap a few pictures.
My dress was from Rent the Runway!! A gorgeous black and silver sequin gown. The photos sadly don't do the details justice.
Then the party started!!
The Tennessee Committee welcomed our guests, ate some delicious southern food and danced the night away. We couldn't have asked for a better event. The band played a wide array of music and everyone seemed to love it. The dance floor was packed all night!!
I LOVED having a few of my sweet friends and bloggers Katie, Bree and Lauren, at the event as well! Their support meant everything and I was so excited to have them there to celebrate with me too!
It's so hard to believe that a year's worth of preparation has finally come to an end. The event was everything we could have asked for and more! I cannot thank everyone enough for all of their hard work and generous donations, that help ensured such a successful event. Tennessee is so excited and honored to donate several hundred thousand dollars back to a charity that means so much to me!
And a big thank you to y'all for your support, questions about the gala, and understanding with my off and on blogging schedule last week. I've got a few posts planned for this week, but honestly plan to take a mental rejuvenating break this week. That way I can get caught up on sleep, emails and get back to preparing some super fun content to bring y'all's way later this month!!
Now, on to Taste of the South 2017!!!