The Soroptimist Club of Long Beach Island, a woman's organization working to benefit both the world and their own community, held its annual wine-tasting and auction on Friday night, raising close to $20,000.
"A lot of times people will say, 'who are these Soroptimists?'" said Jeri Riffle, of Barnegat, the group's vice president. "Our members are very active, talented and dedicated women who are just devoted to the idea of improving people's lives in Ocean County."
According to the group's leadership, the money raised at the auction and from ticket sales will go toward scholarships and support of Barnegat High School, Southern Regional High School, Pinelands Regional High School, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Ocean County, Club Service Project, Girl Scouts of Ocean County, St. Francis Sexual Abuse Program, St. Francis Counseling, and other organizations.
Proceeds from the group's annual fundraiser have also supported various international causes, from the Japanese earthquake relief fund to fighting women trafficking in Africa.
After years of holding the popular wine-tasting event at the Brant Beach Yacht Club, the organization changed the venue this year to the larger Stateroom in Ship Bottom, to accomdate the growing interest from the public. The group is currently 50 members strong, but 280 residents attended the sold-out social on April 27 for $50 per ticket.
Tasting the wines and the hors-d-oeuvres, socializing with old friends and making new connections, picking out through baskets of goodies donated by local merchants, area residents were enjoying themselves Friday night.
"The positive energy and excitement was absolutely palpable," said Riffle. "With the purpose of raising funds for distribution to our local community, plus our inclusion for international assistance, we were able to almost double last year's goals."
Auctions are a great way to get people's attention, the Soroptimist members said.
"It’s probably the most efficient way to get a lot of people in a room to help us raise funds, and also to learn more about our club," said Helene Koseff, the club's president, who lives in Atlantic County.
The guests did show interest in the goodies displayed in rows of baskets in the center of the hall where the event tool place. The baskets that were auctioned included Broadway show tickets, golf packages, fishing packages, spa packages, local art, family games and more from merchants such as Lacey Limo, LA’s Restaurant, Doyle’s Pour House, Joey’s Pizza, Lakewood Blue Claws, Sweet Jenny’s, Uniformity, Fisherman’s Headquarters, Surflight Theater, Fantasy Island and more.
"It's amazing, I've never seen so many beautiful baskets," said Julie Ferenc, 50, of Lacey Township, who was a guest Firiday night. "I've been to other auctions, but this one is a lot more intense."
Tricia Carey, 53, of Ship Bottom, has been going to these for four years now, and enjoying it every time, she said.
"My friend invited me four years ago," Carey said. "And I got to know about the organization. It's such a wonderful cause."
Soroptimist International of Long Beach Island, chartered in 1956, meets the second Wednesday of the month, except in July and August, alternating between locations on Long Beach Island and the mainland. For more information about the group, its future fundraisers and how you can get involved, contact Sandy Goldsborough at email@example.com.