homepage logo

Beach Ball ‘Itty Bitty’ live auction features work by local artists

By Staff | Oct 20, 2010

John, Nate and Derrick Grey of the John Grey Painting Company.

Before many Sanibel School students are old enough to enroll, they spend a few years at the Children’s Education Center of the Islands and, according to Sanibel resident Gaither DeLuca, those early developmental years are essential in preparing island children for the excellent education that the Sanibel School will eventually offer them. Unfortunately, some children miss out on all that the Education Center provides because their parents can’t quite afford to send them there.

But thanks to the Beach Ball, a critical annual fundraiser from which almost 100 percent of the proceeds will go to build up the Children’s Education Center of the Islands’ scholarship fund, many children will have that chance.

“The Beach Ball is very important because it raises money for scholarships at the education center. Our school has to care for children from ages two to four and give them a great preschool education as well as provide aftercare,” said DeLuca, the 2010 Beach Ball event chair. “Day care is very expensive and a babysitter nowadays makes $15 an hour on average — and who can afford that? Even if you can afford it, you want to make sure somebody is doing quality work with your child.”

The average cost of a full-time student’s tuition and aftercare costs almost $600 per month.

DeLuca, whose four-year-old son Andrew has been attending the Children’s Education Center of the Islands since he was two and has loved every single minute of his experience, is working hard to make sure this year’s event is successful.

Leoma Lovegrove generously donated her talent by completing two chairs.

“I have to help. I need to get scholarships raised and have lots of money available for those that need it. The kids all love the education center. Our playground is amazing and our teachers are so loving. And, once the kids get to the Sanibel School, they’re prepared for academic excellence,” DeLuca said. “The education center even has extracurricular activities in addition to pre-k curriculum, such as cooking, yoga, arts and crafts and music and movement, and we also have a theme-based summer program every year.”

The 2010 Beach Ball will be held on Sunday, Nov. 7, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Trader’s on Sanibel. Tickets are $50 per person.

“That $50 includes delicious Trader?s food, beer and wine from Bailey’s General Store, live music from the New Vinyls, an extraordinary silent auction and an ‘Itty Bitty’ live auction,” DeLuca said.

Included in the “Itty Bitty” live auction are child-sized antique and Adirondack chairs decorated by fabulous local artists, including Peter Zell, Leoma Lovegrove and Jaye Boswell.

But the headliners of the Itty Bitty live auction will undoubtedly be the many chairs decorated and donated by John, Derrick and Nate Grey of the John Grey Painting Company.

“My granddaughter Hannah attends the preschool and this is an exciting, feel-good opportunity for us,” John Grey said of his company’s participation in this year’s Beach Ball. “Hannah has become a preschool fanatic who is desperately disappointed if she has to miss a day. She was a little terror at two years old and attending preschool has been the best thing that could have ever happened for her.”

So far, artists at the John Grey Painting Company have already finished four chairs and are anxious to have people bid on them at the Itty Bitty auction.

“When I mentioned the opportunity to help design and decorate chairs for the Beach Ball auction, several artists at our Sanibel Faux business responded with enthusiasm for a little friendly competition,” Grey added. “As a local family, our business has developed roots in the community. It’s great to be able to help out while sharing in fun, community activities. Participation in these activities helps us to stay grounded.”

All the money raised from ticket sales and the live and silent auctions goes directly to scholarships for the Children’s Education Center of the Islands, in addition to minor upkeep costs.

To make a reservation for the Beach Ball, send a check made payable to the Children’s Education Center of the Islands to:

ATTN: Reservations

350 Casa Ybel Road

Sanibel, FL


Include your name and phone number and you will be immediately added to the reservation list. If you would like to confirm that your reservation has been received, call DeLuca.

DeLuca is still looking for items for both the live and silent auctions. If you have tiny piece of artwork to donate to the live auction’s “Itty Bitty” theme, or an exciting prize to offer for the silent auction, contact Gaither DeLuca at 233-6042 or gaitherdeluca@msn.com.

This is the sixth consecutive year The Sanibel-Captiva Trust Company has been the Title Sponsor for the Beach Ball.

Sponsors also include Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis, The Sanctuary Golf Club, Congress Jewelers, The Royal Shell Companies, RLR Investments, John Grey Painting Company, L3BeachPhoto.com, Sandcastle Construction Company, Island Sun, Breeze Newspapers, Sanibel Captiva Resort Collection, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, Bailey’s General Store, Bank of the Islands, Robert & Georgeanne Pailes, Barefoot Charley’s Painting, The Sanibel Bean, Barrier Island Title, Pak-n-Ship, Michael & Jody Willis, Nave Plumbing, Banner Pool, Over Easy Café, Sanibel Island Cinema, VIP Realty, Floral Artistry, Island Therapy Center, Casa Ybel Resort, Periwinkle Park and Chuck & Helen Ketteman.