WESTPORT, Conn. -- Singing sensation Sara Bareilles brings a special flair to the 20th anniversary Gala for the Southport-based Near & Far Aid, scheduled for Friday, March 6 at Mitchells of Westport.
Bareilles, a five-time Grammy award nominee, will deliver a special performance at the Gala, which also includes a standing dinner, cocktails, a silent auction and more. Near & Far Aid gives grants to more than 95 agencies in Fairfield County.
“We’ve been looking at a larger scale concert event for a while," said Jeanne Burris, one of the co-chairs for the event. “The event just kind of conspired. We worked with the Fairfield Theater Company and we were able to make it happen.”
Bareilles will perform in a tent attached to the store at Mitchells. The event, which begins at 7 p.m., will give guests the opportunity to bid on live, silent and fine wine auctions.
The Gala has sold out many times, and Burris expects it will again this year. Organizers are hoping to raise $1 million for the charity at the Gala, which is the organization’s largest fundraiser, according to Melanie Smith, who has been involved with Near & Far Aid for 46 years.
“I think it's popular for two reasons,’’ Burris said. “I think we’ve come to earn a reputation for putting on high quality events. And people know their money is staying right in their neighborhoods. They feel like they’re helping their own neighbors. It’s nice to have the money stay right here in our community.”
Smith, a Realtor for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties in Southport, said the Gala began when a corporate sponsor approached her about attaching to the organization's antiques show, which had been the agency’s lone fundraiser.
“We couldn’t do it, because it was sponsored by another business that had exclusive rights,’’ Smith said. “I said, 'We would love to have you sponsor another event.' About the same time Bill and Jack Mitchell said they wanted to get more involved. We came up with the Gala event for the first Friday in March, and it has been a huge success.”
Smith said the Mitchells have been a driving force in that success. The Gala also includes terrific auction items, including Wimbledon tickets, a six-night Tuscan adventure, tickets to the Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice awards, Valentino fashion show tickets in Paris and a side trip to Saint-Tropez, Milan fashion experience tickets with four nights accommodations in Milan, and several other trips, rare wine lots and sporting event tickets.
Remarkably, the event is still very much needed in Fairfield County. While there are pockets of tremendous wealth, there are also regions of abject poverty.
“It’s still sorely needed,’’ Smith said. “We donate just about every dollar that we raise. We have to spend a small amount, but everything else is donated. We spend it every year. Our policy is to have the money go out within the year after it comes in.”
For more information on the Gala or to purchase tickets, visit the event website .