Annual Outfitters event attracts record donations as service area expands
NOBLESVILLE — Outfitters’ theme for its annual benefit gala was “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes.”
From a fundraising perspective, the event turned out far better than organizers had hoped, if not dreamed.
The 16th annual event, which took place Saturday at Embassy Suites in Noblesville, played host to a record 315 guests and raised more money than ever for the Pendleton-based non-profit, which helps clothe children.
“We were hoping to break $100,000, but we did not expect to exceed it by that much,” Outfitters Executive Director Carrie Bale said shortly after the total was tallied.
Total donations for the night were $132,838. Last year’s event raised about $74,000.
Bale said the total from the gala, which is the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year, will pay to operate its building, located at 880 S. Pendleton Ave. in Pendleton, for the whole year, buy new clothing items it provides to hundreds of families, and more.
It will also help the organization expand its mission.
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When it started, Outfitters served families in the South Madison Community School Corp. district in south Madison County.
It now serves all of Madison County and beyond, and is seeking to partner with other organizations that provide other services to families in need, Bale said.
Last year, she said, more than 1,400 children received clothing from Outfitters — including 700 from Anderson — up from between 400 and 600 each of the previous three years.
She said funds from this year’s gala will help set up “closets” at some of these partner organizations.
Those other organizations might provide food or counseling services, and “we can work alongside them and say, ‘Let us take care of the clothing part.’”
The gala was a formal affair and featured a silent auction and dessert auction, as well as a live auction and vacation raffle.
Bidding for the live auction got playfully competitive, as auctioneer Gunner Boone worked to garner the highest bids.
A pair of diamond earrings valued at $990 sold for $1,800 to Karmi Conn and Mark Atchley.
“I let her bid on it — she had a great time,” Atchley said, referring to Karmi.
He said he didn’t know and didn’t care what they were worth.
“Both of us have a soft spot for children’s charity,” he said.
The dessert auction, where people bid in groups according to table number — watching live as updated totals scroll on a screen — raised more than $33,000.
Each table then was able to select one dessert from an array of donated baked creations, starting with the top-bidding table on down.
Dan Joyce, former principal at Pendleton Middle School, made the selection for his table, the top bidder, and he honed in on a multi-cake, multi-tier Sweet Petals Bake Shop creation, which featured the gala theme.
Other fundraising subtotals from the evening included $44,100 in corporate sponsorships, $26,000 in ticket sales, $13,000 in silent auction bids, $10,000 from the sold-out vacation raffle, and $4,100 in live auction bids.
In addition to fundraising, the event also recognized the people and organizations who contribute to Outfitters.
“It is because of our volunteers that we can make the impact that we do,” Bale said.
Jan Tooley, who has helped at Outfitters since 2004 and led the cleanout and reorganization of the group’s warehouse last fall, was honored as Volunteer of the Year.
Sisson Family Dentistry was honored as Directors Business Partner of the Year for ongoing sponsorship and other contributions.