Gala raises more than $8,000 to help youth

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Posted: Sunday, January 12, 2014 12:00 am | Updated: 11:10 am, Tue Mar 25, 2014.

The La Vista Convention Center was filled with 1920s Old-Hollywood glamour on New Year’s Eve. Tables adorned with feathered decorations filled with halibut, a beef fillet and cheesecake, all enjoyed by a crowd of party-goers who had more than just a festive night out on their minds.

The fourth annual To the Nines gala, a project of the La Vista Community Foundation, raises funds for the foundation as well as a charity of its choice. This year, the foundation chose to have the event support the Papillion-La Vista Schools Foundation.

The evening began with cocktails and an opening toast, followed by a five-course dinner and dancing to the music of Taxi Driver. Snacks reappeared around 11 p.m., with a champagne toast at midnight.

In between the moments of food and festivity, speakers from both foundations, as well as La Vista Mayor Doug Kindig, explained to guests where their donations would be going and why those funds are so important.

The Children’s Emergency Fund of the Papillion-La Vista Schools Foundation is designed to provide assistance to district families who are experiencing financial emergencies. For example, the fund might spend $150 to reconnect utilities, $50 for transportation to job interviews or $225 for a partial rent payment.

In a video presented by the Schools Foundation, one student who was helped by the fund explained how she had gone to gym class in flip-flops because she couldn’t afford anything else. The fund was able to get her proper gym shoes.

“Think of the scar that would leave at 16, when image means everything,” Kindig said. “They didn’t buy her fancy, expensive shoes. These were just necessities.”

The mayor urged the audience to remember what it was like to be a teenager but add the stress of worrying about having food and a stable place to live.

“We don’t think of our community as a place where there is a lot of poverty, but there is a need out there,” he said. “The fund doesn’t just provide money, it provides confidence and emotional support.”

In total, To the Nines raised $11,085 in donations, said Leah Hoins, executive director of the La Vista Community Foundation.

Three-fourths of the proceeds will go to the Schools Foundation and 25 percent supporting the grants and events like La Vista Daze supported by the Community Foundation, Hoins said.

Tables competed with each other to raise the most funds, with the three tables that collectively donated the most receiving prize packages, such as rounds of golf, hockey tickets, or restaurant gift cards.

Many of the prizes highlighted local businesses, including La Vista Falls Golf Course, Mama’s Pizza and Kajomas Boutique.

“We try to keep the prizes in the packages in La Vista as much as possible,” Hoins said. “We get people caring about the community, and community businesses can reap the rewards as well.”

Hoins stressed that the gala depends on its sponsors. Sponsors included the La Vista Sun, Omaha World-Herald, Bellino Fireworks, La Vista Keno, La Vista Embassy Suites, Performance Auto Group, Bank of Nebraska, American National Bank, Oriental Trading Co. and the law firm of Fitzgerald, Schorr, Barmettler & Brennan.

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