Held on Wednesday (June 18) at the Best Western Lamplighter Inn, the event served as a fundraiser supporting programs and services at St. Joseph’s Hospice. The hospice provides compassionate care and companionship to palliative and bereaved individuals and families.
Handbags for Hospice featured some 150 fashionable and designer handbags that were available for silent and live auction.
While the organizing committee had its collective hands full keeping the cocktail party-style event running smoothly, Linda Leja’s job as auctionista was to ensure the energy high of the evening continued into the bidding process.
Maintain a high level of energy is nearly second nature to Leja, who is also director of development at the London Regional Children’s Museum. However, as the former fund development manager at Hospice Wellington, she also had a more personal reason for offering her services during the event.
“I feel very strongly about hospice care. I lived and breathed that cause for two years, experienced how important supportive care at the end of life truly is,” Leja said. “I feel very connected to this cause, so I am here to create an exciting, live auction experience. That is what the auctionista does, with vim and vigor and excitement, all in support of St. Joseph’s Hospice.
St. Joseph’s Hospice looks to the community for support in funding 42 percent of its operating budget for programs and services. This year’s event had the goal of raising $85,000.
Anne Milne, Hospice for Handbags committee chair, said with the support of the community (both in cash donations and sponsorships), and through the live and silent auctions, that target was well within reach.
Of course, fundraising wasn’t the night’s only goal.
“We hope people take away a greater understanding of hospice, the services it provides. It is a fun event to come to, but the bottom line is we are here to support hospice,” Milne said. “Women are going to buy handbags anyway, so why not buy handbags to support a cause like hospice? That was the idea behind it.”
Julie Johnston, executive director St. Joseph’s Hospice, said Handbags for Hospice is a great opportunity for women to come together, celebrate each other, and support a wonderful cause.
That, and have a fun night out.
“Women are predominately caregivers and so often we are so busy caring for other people that we don’t take of ourselves,” Johnston said. “This is a wonderful way to come together and pamper ourselves while supporting the cause. That we have so many people here tonight tells me these wonderful women are very interested in doing just that.”