EASLEY — The final preparations for the fourth annual Cheer for Children Holiday Gala benefiting The Parenting Place are well underway and Sara Trinkl couldn’t be happier.
“This is our main fundraiser for the year, so the pressure is on,” Trinkl, community engagement director for the Parenting Place, said. “Unfortunately, we aren’t expecting quite as big of a turn out as we had last year but everything is different, even the venue. We’re kind of considering this a ‘re-building’ year.”
Last year’s Gala was held in the Crowne Plaza in Greenville.
“We changed it to Tri-County Tech for several reasons, but the main one was cost. The Plaza is great, but this is a fundraiser. We just couldn’t justify the cost of the other location,” said Trinkl.
More than 220 people attended last year’s Gala but so far only around 80 have signed up for this year’s.
“Education is a hard sell,” Trinkl said, frowning. “People assume that we’re a state-run agency and we’re not. We’re non-profit and we rely on public support.”
The Parenting Place offers in-home visitation services as well as parent education, guidance and support to prevent child abuse and neglect across Pickens, Anderson, Oconee and Greenville counties.
“South Carolina is already one of the worst places in the country in terms of reported child abuse, neglect and infant mortality and then you add in the fact that the counties we serve have some of the worst numbers in the state — it’s a problem. But it’s a problem no one likes to talk about.
“We teach new parents the importance of safe sleeping for infants,” she said. “It’s something that sounds like it would be common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people just don’t understand the dangers of accidental suffocation by sleeping with their baby in their bed.”
It costs around $100 to visit four families a day.
“The Gala is our way not to just raise funds, but to build awareness around the community as well. A ‘Hey, we’re here — and we can help,’ kind of thing,” she said.
This year’s event features both a live and silent auction, cash bar, heavy hors d’oeuvres, music by the Bruce Whisler Brass Quartet and nationally known auctioneer Darron Meares. News Channel 4 anchor Michael Cogdill is is the guest speaker. Dress is semi-formal.
“The auction should be fun, we have some really great things,” said Trinkl. “There’s a Charleston package with tickets to Garth Brooks, pontoon rental with catering from Groucho’s Deli and sports memorabilia. We’re supposed to have a signed football from Dabo Swinny. He has the ball, but we haven’t gotten it back yet.
“I have the one from Spurrier, but I don’t know if people will bid on that one,” Trinkl said and laughed. “It was from before he retired.”
The 2015 Cheer for Children Holiday Gala is from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 11 at Tri-County Technical College’s Easley campus, 1774 Powdersville Road.
Tickets are $30 and are available at the door of the Gala, online, at The Parenting Place, 1899 Gentry Memorial Highway, or by calling 864-898-5583.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.