Outfitters gala set to be biggest to date

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PENDLETON — It’s about a month before an annual event where hundreds of people get dressed up to — among other things — raise funds to help clothe area children in need.
And it’s already set to be the biggest Outfitters Benefit Gala in the event’s 17-year history, with at least 25% more tickets sold than ended up attending last year.
“We had the capacity to make it bigger,” Outfitters Executive Director Carrie Bale said, noting that the event venue nudged organizers into taking an additional fourth section to expand the ballroom space. “And I’ll be darned, you throw that out there and people come.”
Outfitters, a Pendleton-based non-profit organization, is planning the event for Saturday, Feb. 24, at Embassy Suites in Noblesville.
As of this past Saturday, there were 400 tickets sold, surpassing last year’s attendance of 315, which itself was a record turnout, Bale said.
“It’s been exciting to see, and how quickly sales have happened. That’s what’s shocked us. It’s not even February,” Bale said.
“I just think people, one, know that this is a quality event. They know what to expect, they’ve gone for a couple of years, they know it’s a really good time, as well as getting to celebrate and support an organization that is showing impact also. … People feel really good in coming.”
The gala is a formal affair that includes dinner and dancing, as well as a silent auction, dessert auction, live auction and more.
There will also be a program during which speakers will explain the organization’s mission and goals, and spotlight volunteers and others who help make the organization function.
This year’s gala theme is “Havana Nights.”
Individual tickets cost $80.
Funds are also raised through corporate sponsorships.
Corporate sponsorships range from Bronze ($1,000) up to Title ($10,000).
There are also corporate tables for eight available for $800 and tickets for $100 that enable volunteers to attend.
The number of corporate tables is up, too, Bale said, with seven of this year’s 20 tables purchased by companies that haven’t attended in past.
The gala is the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year, Bale said. It typically pays to operate its building, located at 880 S. Pendleton Ave. in Pendleton, for the whole year, buys the new clothing it provides to hundreds of school-age children and more.
Donations last year were $132,838, which was a record total.
The gala also helps the organization expand its mission.
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 partners with other organizations that provide other services to families in need, Bale said.
Outfitters provides new and gently used clothing. In 2023, more than 1,800 children received clothing from Outfitters — including about two-thirds from outside South Madison County — up from around 1,400 in 2022, which was up from 400 to 600 each of the previous three years.
Bale said she’s going to discuss a new development at the gala that will allow Outfitters to grow more in the future. It has started an endowment fund with South Madison Community Foundation.
She said the endowment will generate proceeds each year, and the hope is the endowment grows to the point where the annual proceeds pay for putting on the gala.
“That’s our ultimate long-term goal,” she said.
Embassy Suites is located at 13700 Conference Center Drive, Noblesville.
For more gala details, visit outfittersclothes.org or outfittersclothes on Facebook. Outfitters can be reached at 765-778-9097.