NEW YORK — Delivering Good raised over $1.3 million at its annual gala Wednesday night at the Ziegfeld Ballroom here.
The numbers are expected to go higher once the online auction closes Nov. 12.
This year’s event, which had the theme “The Power of Family,” honored three of the organization’s partners for their contributions to communities in need. The Ralph Lauren Corp. was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, SAP received the inaugural Innovation Award, and Tanger Outlets took home the Impact Award.
Ken Downing, chief creative officer of Triple Five Group, returned as master of ceremonies, having hosted the event in 2019 as well as a virtual event last year. He worked the room, whose tables were decorated with Jonathan Adler pottery filled with colorful flowers. Among the 400 guests were Abbey Doneger, Michael Bastian, Fern Mallis, Kenneth Ohashi, Allan Ellinger, Mark Tritton, Stacey Berns and Todd Kahn.
The interactive evening featured several different musical guests — DJ Hesta Prynn, The Melanie Charles Quartet, Sing Harlem Choir, and Lorenzo Laroc — and a conversation between Downing and Lisa Gurwitch, president and chief executive officer of Delivering Good, and Andrea Weiss, chairwoman of Delivering Good.
“The greatest impact Delivering Good can make is by assisting families in need through our local partners. The positive force of families, whether born or chosen, can lay a solid foundation for a person to achieve their dreams,” said Downing, who is also a Delivering Good board member.
According to Gurwitch, in 2020 Delivering Good provided 70 million items to people in need with a value of almost $300 million. “We’ve never seen anything like that before,” she said. She said this year already, they’re in the process of delivering almost 20 million items.
Weiss recalled stories of the individuals they’ve met that really touched her. She spoke about incarcerated women who were looking for dresses and work apparel so they could go on a job interview, or children who have survived hurricanes in places like the Bahamas and needed school uniforms and clothes for their middle school graduation ceremony.
Among the most needed new items are socks, underwear, jeans, shoes and basics, while Gurwitch said furniture and home furnishings also are in demand.
“We’ve all been affected [by the pandemic] in many different ways,” said Gurwitch. “The pandemic revealed extraordinary effects on certain communities, especially communities of color.” She said for 36 years, they have served these communities and are committed to doing even more. They are planning to launch a Racial Equity program which will enable Delivering Good to provide products plus additional services.
The evening was interspersed with people telling real life stories of how Delivering Good has helped them. Josselyn Vasquez Piedrasanta and her brother Chrisber shared their story of challenges they faced coming to the U.S. from Guatemala with nothing and making a life here with their mother and father. They spoke about the positive impact donations of new merchandise from DG community partner The River Fund had on their life. “The donations we received meant the world to us,” said Piedrasanta, wearing a Ralph Lauren dress for the evening.
During the event, board member Monica Bertran read a letter from a mother whose four-year-old son Scotty got COVID-19 and when he got home from the hospital, he received a new bed from Delivering Good. “He takes such pride in his bedroom. Every morning he actually makes his bed and he makes me smile when I see that. The first time I saw him making his bed, I started to cry,” the mother wrote.
Arthur Rampert told the story of the help he received from DG community partner Silent Cry. DG’s donations included a dress shirt and slacks by Ralph Lauren that gave him the confidence to get a job. DG board member Carol Lapidus related a story from a fourth grade girl about the impact of getting a donation of new shoes, and Sarah Murphy, who had previously been incarcerated when she was pregnant with her son and had to leave behind twin daughters, provided a personal testimonial of how a donation of new merchandise aided her children and helped her eventually get a job.
Accepting the Impact Award, Stephen J. Yalof, chief executive officer of Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, said he was originally introduced to Delivering Good and came up with an idea to offer beanies for sale to raise money for the organization and offered one Washington, D.C., family facing fiscal hardships a $500 gift card to Tanger Outlets for back-to-school shopping.
“Tanger is a family business at heart and at Tanger we are committed to four core values. They are consider community first, act fairly with integrity, seek the success of others, and make it happen. I don’t think there is another charitable organization out there that aligns more with these values than Delivering Good,” said Yaloff.
Andy O’ Flaherty, vice president of services and head of industry for SAP’s retail practice, accepted the Innovation Award. “SAP tends to be very shy about touting our merits. I need to say how proud it makes me feel to work for a company that puts social responsibility at the center of our culture,” he said.
In accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award, David Lauren, chief branding and innovation officer and vice chairman of the board at Ralph Lauren Corp., gave his acceptance speech via video. “Our years-long relationship with Delivering Good is rooted in common values — values like family, optimism and hope, and the belief that everyone deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential,” he said. At Ralph Lauren, he said, they are committed to their goal of helping everyone achieve the dream of a better life. That includes access to household goods to people facing challenges.
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