Handbags for Hospice

High Fashion and Community Spirit – Handbags for Hospice

What do you get when you put over 300 women and over 170 handbags in the same room? A really exciting fundraiser!

On June 15, 2017, hundreds of women converged on the Lamplighter Inn for the Handbags for Hospice fundraiser to benefit St. Joseph’s Hospice. Lerners LLP has been the presenting sponsor for Handbags for Hospice for the past two years. Myself, Yola Ventresca and Natalie Carrothers were all members of the organizing committee. It is important to Lerners that we give back to the community that we service, and this event is a great way to do so.

The highlight of the night is definitely, Layne the Auctionista. She has an uncanny ability to make people up their bids in the live auction. Her energy somehow makes your bid card rise into the air. The live auction had beautiful purses from Valentino, Givenchy, Burberry and of course …. Louis.

The evening isn’t just about adding a new addition to your purse collection. Attendees heard about the need of residents to have access to power lift recline chairs, which help them maintain some of their independence. Many residents struggle to even transfer from an arm chair to a standing position and require the assistance of nurses to get them up. Something as simple as standing from a chair – which most of simply take for granted – becomes a reminder for residents of what they have lost. After learning of Hospice’s need for these chairs, the generosity of the London community came through in full force, with over $20,000 being raised in under 5 minutes!

Another fun part of the evening is the silent auction. You spot the bag you want to go home with, and then it all becomes about protecting your bid. As an attendee who has successfully walked away with a handbag each year, I will share some strategies for being the highest bidder:

  • Keep an eye on your bag especially when the auction is about to close. Now is not the time to grab a glass of wine or a plate of food. Bathroom breaks are out of the question. Focus on the goal.
  • Enlist the aid of your friends – you don’t want to signal to others that you are coveting a bag and are their competition. Have your friends take a peek at the bid sheet for you, while you maintain a safe distance.
  • Have pen in hand for the final minute. In the event there is a mad dash at the end of the auction to get your number on the final slot of the bid sheet, the last thing you want to be is struggling to find a pen – such a waste of precious time!
  • Position yourself wisely – in the last few minutes, you need to get close to the bid sheet.

Finally, the pro strategy – not for the faint of heart. If there is a bag that you are really coveting, one that you must bring home, a sure fire way of getting it is to be aggressive with your bids. Get your bid number on the sheet, at the top preferably but if there are a lot of bids, you might want to hold back a little. When there are only a couple of minutes left in bidding time, when people are hovering over the coveted bag, pens in hand, positioning themselves to swoop in to be the last bidder, walk right up to the bid sheet and up the last bid significantly – leave some bid lines blank to show you mean business. You have now shown that you intend on hanging that bag from your shoulder, and your competition will have to reach into their wallet to be the winner. The best part of this strategy is if you do still end up getting out bid, then you have helped to raise even more money for St. Joseph’s Hospice!

Alysia Christiaen

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