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Annual Mardi Gras Fundraising Event to support CHR on islands

By Staff | Jan 28, 2020

Tickets are still available for an event that will bring the best of New Orleans to the islands.

Hosted by Community Housing and Resources, the 8th Annual Mardi Gras Fundraising Event will be held on Feb. 8 from 6 to 9 p.m. at MudBugs Cajun Kitchen. It will offer a fun evening of New Orleans-style food, entertainment, games and activities, while raising needed funds to support CHR’s mission.

“This is our one and only major fundraiser,” Executive Director Melissa Rice said, explaining that more than half of what CHR needs annually to accomplish its mission comes from fund raising.

“This is a big deal and a big part of hitting those numbers,” she added of the event.

CHR provides housing for families and individuals who work on and who serve the islands.

Executive Director Melissa Rice

Marking its 40th anniversary, it was formed to address a growing need for affordable housing in the community. Currently, it manages 88 housing units across Sanibel, including 74 rental units – one of which is a 12-unit complex designated for senior residents – and 14 limited equity ownership units.

To successfully meet state requirements, CHR still needs to add at least 33 more to its inventory.

“We need to expand and build more units, so this fundraiser is more important than ever,” Rice said.

She noted that the goal is to identify properties and start building in the next year or two.

As for the event, attendees are guaranteed to have a New Orleans good time.

“It is known as one of the most fun fundraisers on the islands,” Rice said.

There will be pay-to-play blackjack and poker games, with the chance to win raffle prizes.

“We have some fabulous prizes that we have been collecting,” she said.

There are spa treatments, home dcor, restaurant gift certificates, water sports adventures and more.

There will be a fortune teller and palm reader on site.

“It’s included in the ticket price,” Rice said.

Deejay Robert McDonald will provide live entertainment, with plenty of dancing to ensue.

“He’s going to be playing original Cajun music,” she said.

Attendees will have the chance to further support CHR and donate toward its needed expansion through the “Homes of Love Mask Wall” and with a live auction, which will feature four packages.

Rice explained that 100 masks were purchased and decorated. Attendees can select a mask for $200 each – and take it home with them – and behind each one is the chance to win a prize. Many of items were donated by Lowe’s and range from a cast iron skillet and tools, up to a grill and patio furniture.

“It’s another way for them to help us with our expansion needs,” she said.

“We’d like to sell all 100 masks,” Rice added. “That’s the goal.”

For the live auction, Jeff Muddell will serve as the auctioneer, with the help of Mark Padgett.

“It’s his first time auctioneering for us, but I understand he has done it before,” she said.

Rice noted that the auction is the biggest element of the event.

“It’s the biggest way people can help us provide the affordable housing that we do,” she said.

The four packages up for grabs will include:

– Private Dinner: An at-home private dinner prepared by MudBugs Chef Ryan Kida, which will be paired with wine hand-picked by Tom Uhler and Calli Johnson and donated by Bailey’s General Store.

– Rauschenberg Tour: An exclusive tour of the Rauschenberg Property for eight, followed by dinner and two bottles of wine at Cielo and transportation by Sanibel Double D Taxi Designated Drivers.

– Private Marine Tour: Dr. Bruce Neill will share his knowledge of the area and its creatures during an afternoon or evening boat tour, with winner’s choice of gourmet catering from the Paper Fig Kitchen.

– Kabana Pendant: A 14-karat gold pendant with spiny lobster and mother of pearl, plus diamonds, from Lily & Company Jewelers that is valued at approximately $3,300

MudBugs will prepare passed appetizers and a buffet dinner, as well as crawfish and oyster stations. There will be Mardi Gras shrimp, jambalaya and more, including a specialty entree for the event.

“He (Kida) created a special dish just for us for the dinner,” Rice said.

There will be beignets for dessert, plus an open bar – all included in the ticket price.

Tickets are $200 per person.

Mardi Gras or New Orleans-style attire is welcome.

“We love it when people dress in costume,” she said, noting that a lot of attendees get into the spirit. “Any costume that they would like to wear is awesome. If they don’t want to dress up, that’s OK too.”

People are encouraged to pick up their tickets quickly before the event sells out.

“This fundraiser is to help us continue to provide affordable housing to the islands’ workforce and those in need,” Rice said. “And it’s the most fun fundraiser – we’re unique and we’re different.”

Sanibel Captiva Community Bank and Lily & Company are the presenting sponsors.

For tickets, visit sanibelchr.org/mardigras or stop by the CHR office, at 2401 Library Way, Sanibel. For more information, www.SanibelCHR.org or contact 239-472-1189 or melissa.rice@sanibelchr.org.

MudBugs Cajun Kitchen is at 1473 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel.