The first thing you see when you go on the website for Barrington Children’s Charities (BCC) is a quote by John F. Kennedy: “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”
Tom and Darby Hills of Barrington Hills founded the nonprofit entity nearly a decade ago with a mission to positively impact the lives of children in Barrington and the surrounding communities. Whether it’s the Blessings in a Backpack initiative in Barrington schools or District 220’s Lens for Learning program, BCC and its volunteers have made a lasting impact on our community.
However, as Darby and her legion of faithful volunteers can attest, none of it would be possible without the support of signature fundraising events such as the one they are now most famous for—the Holly Ball, held this year on Saturday, December 8. The glamourous black tie evening, which includes a seated candlelight dinner, dancing to local band McKillin’ It, and delicious cocktails at the Barrington Hills Country Club, is a coveted staple in the Barrington social calendar.
And while it’s fun to be photographed on the red carpet in the most fashionable gowns of the season, co-chairs Alyssa Pazdan and Keri Culhane are quick to explain that the real reason people attend year after year is because they believe in BCC and the extraordinary ways it supports young people in need.
“Barrington Children’s Charities makes a meaningful impact on the children of District 220,” says Pazdan, who has been involved with BCC since its Skate to be Great event in 2015. “The charity offers more than just funding for children, it provides a sense of community for both people giving and receiving. This event give guests the opportunity to be a part of that special support we give to our neighbors.”
Run entirely by volunteers, BCC fundraising endeavors help to support and address the social, emotional, physical, and educational needs of children within the District 220 area. Beneficiaries are chosen based on need and the scope of the project. $102,790 in grants were dispersed in 2018 alone, making it possible for young people to get the support, nourishment, and opportunities they need to get off to a good start in life.
“What is unique about this charity is that they have a very straightforward goal to benefit the children within Barrington 220,” add Culhane. “There are many families and children who rely on BCC’s grants to make an impact on their lives. For example, without Blessings in a Back Pack there would be children who would go home for the weekend not knowing if they would have enough food to eat. BCC provides a sense of consistency and comfort for children and families where they may not have otherwise.”
Pazdan and Culhane agree that their main goal as co-chairs is to rally participation from throughout the Barringtons, whether it be long-time BCC supporters or those who are new to the community. That means putting together an elegant ball experience for the memory books, one that will have people talking through the new year.
“The 8th annual Holly Ball will give you a golden winter wonderland gala to help kick off your holiday season,” says Pazdan. “Merry spirits that encourage generosity are the signature of Holly Ball. The glistening atmosphere will be a festive fundraiser and give guests the opportunity to learn more about BCC and how they can become part of this charity and help children in our community.”
Another popular Holly Ball tradition is the live auction. This year’s lineup so far includes a first-class Kentucky Derby party for four to watch the Derby live in Louisville; the signature raffle of a jeweled treasure donated by Long & Co. Jewelers; and another one-of-a-kind trip experience.
Culhane, who moved to Barrington six years ago, says she first learned about BCC by attending its much-adored Derby Party.
“At that time, being new to the area, it was eye opening to me to see how much of a need there truly is in Barrington District 220. The following year I joined the Derby committee to get my feet wet and help champion the chairs’ efforts by working on silent auction items for the event,” she explains. “In addition, I started packing for Blessings in a Backpack and delivering the food back to my home school where my children attend. I have also set up a school wide sign up for Blessings to give others the opportunity to attend and pack on a date that works for them. Anyone is welcome to come pack and something that I would encourage everyone to do, you leave with a sense of our community working together and sharing in the great pleasure of giving.”
Pazdan also volunteers her time to pack food for Blessings in a Backpack at Sunny Hill Elementary School and says the difference BCC makes in the community is something she and others can see every day. It’s the beacon of hope that is needed, and both she and Culhane encourage you to join them in making it all possible.
The 2018 Holly Ball is being held Saturday, December 8, at Barrington Hills Country Club. Tickets are $250 per person and available by visiting barringtonchildrenscharities.com.