In full form, and then some


“This is a night to remember,” Niki Brown told the crowd Saturday, toward the end of the evening’s event program. “I am amazed.”
Brown, executive director of Outfitters Inc., a children’s clothing non-profit, had just watched as various auctions, raffles and other donations pushed the total to a new fundraising record — almost $74,000 — for its annual gala celebration, which is in its 15th year.
There was also a record number of attendees — 285 — Brown said, about 20 more than the last in-person event in 2020.
Last year, the event, which raises funds to help provide clothing to families in need, was online-only because of COVID-19.
This year marked its return to Waters Ballroom at Embassy Suites Conference Center in Noblesville, with a masquerade ball theme. Masks were encouraged, but fun ones instead of the medical variety more common in recent times.
“It’s for a good cause,” Jake Grund said as he waited for another galagoer to purchase a raffle ticket for the chance to win a vacation package.
Joe and Cora Wilson attended the gala — which included dinner and dancing — wearing ornate masks, ones they purchased but also personalized with their add-ons, such as decorative gems.
“We tried to make it our own a little bit,” Joe Wilson said.

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In addition to the vacation raffle, which raised $6,300, there was a 50/50 raffle (raising $1,700 total, with the winner donating his half back to Outfitters), a silent auction of donated items/packages ($8,500), a live auction for larger items including a diamond necklace and private chef package ($4,750), as well as the highly competitive dessert auction ($24,602), during which items donated by local bakeries draw bids of thousands of dollars for bragging rights.
The top dessert bid, for a masquerade-themed cake, was $6,200.
A chocolate cake with chocolate-covered strawberries, donated by Heather McLane, was voted People’s Choice.
The fundraising goal for the night was $70,000, and the tally as of Monday was $73,654, Brown said. That compares to $33,401 from last year’s virtual event and about $63,000 in 2020, when the event took place just before COVID-19 shut most things down.
The totals are before expenses, which were about $5,000 for the virtual event and more than $15,000 for the live events, Brown said.
The organization’s total annual budget is about $120,000.
“It was good that we were able to reach that (goal),” Brown said Monday. “Everybody should feel that they can celebrate being a part of something like that.”
In addition to fundraising, part of the evening included explaining Outfitters’ mission — to provide nice clothing to children, thereby helping to foster positive self-image and confidence — and recognizing the people who help achieve that goal.
Outfitters provides hundreds of pairs of shoes and boots, coats, socks, gloves and other clothing items each year, serving 400 to 500 children annually. It is located at 880 S. Pendleton Ave., where families can schedule a time to shop for clothing.
Brown presented Outfitters’ Volunteer of the Year awards to Melissa Lehr (posthumously) and Jan Tooley.
Tim Lehr accepted the award on behalf of his late wife, and Tooley was unable to attend.
Business Partner of the Year Award went to Community Hospital Anderson.
President and CEO Beth Tharp and nurse Shelby Wisehart accepted the award.
Live music was provided by The Flying Toasters.
Sponsors for the night include The Performance Group LLC, Community Hospital Anderson (Diamond, $5,000); Alltrack Inc. (Platinum, $3,500); BL Brown Construction and Excavating Inc., Sisson Family Dentistry, Martin Group Insurance and GVC Mortgage (Gold, $2,000); Berline Construction Inc., Fredericks Inc. Contractors, Garrett Law LLC, The Bank Restaurant (Silver, $1,000); Central Indiana Orthopedics, John Cole with Indiana State Farm Insurance, Real Estate Pros, Pendleton Travel and Fishers UPC (Bronze, $500). Seasons of the Heart provided decorations for the banquet hall.
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