The Heights Foundation/The Heights Center hosted a live virtual event on Tuesday, March 24. The 12th Annual Love Your Neighbor event was pivoted due to coronavirus concerns. The event raised more than $230,000 to support the organization that works to build strong, self-sufficient families in The Harlem Heights neighborhood of Fort Myers. The online auction began Friday, March 20 at noon and culminated with a live broadcast from The Heights Center on Tuesday evening. Local media personality Gina Birch emceed the evening. Scott Robertson of Scott Robertson Auctioneers was the auctioneer.
Viewers were able to watch the broadcast live on YouTube while donating and bidding on their phones. The event featured a pre-recorded music video with the kids from The Heights Center, a performance by local musicians Lori and Randy Thomas, a fund a need, and a silent and live auction.
Top auction items included a wine and culinary cruise for ten aboard the 101’ M/Y Tò-Kalòn, a luxury trip to Chicago to see Elton John, a Maine Adventure with wardrobe provided by Brodeur Carvell and Jennifer’s, a trip to New York for four with dining and entertainment, and several in-home and on location dinners with celebrated local chefs.
“Our Love Your Neighbor event is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said Kathryn Kelly, founder, president and CEO of The Heights Foundation/The Heights Center. “The families in Harlem Heights are extremely vulnerable, particularly now. This event took on an added urgency for us as we need to provide support to our families so they can keep a roof over their heads and food on the table while kids are out of school and parents are out of work. We were amazed by the outpouring of support by our friends and donors.”
“This was the one of the first virtual live events held east of the Mississippi River,” said Robertson. “The Heights Foundation acted quickly to modify the in-person event, and put together a great team. We had tremendous participation, competitive bidding and success. Viewers had fun watching in the comfort of their own homes, they were able to comment on the broadcast in a YouTube chat, bid on great auction items, and support an organization that helps families living in poverty.”
Event sponsors included Mark Loren Designs, Norman Love Confections, Cliff and Georganne Williams, Lee Health, entech, RG Architects, Dean and Janie Schreiner, Robert and Ruth Ann Diefenbach, and Don and Andie Vogt.
For more information about The Heights Foundation/The Heights Center visit www.heightsfoundation .org or call (239) 482-7706. To donate, visit www.heightsfoundation.org/donate.
About the Heights Foundation and the Heights Center
The Heights Foundation works to build self-sufficient families in the Harlem Heights neighborhood. The mission is to support education and wellness, promote family and community development, and provide the benefits of enrichment
and the arts. The Heights Center, supported by The Heights Foundation, is a place for Education, Opportunity, and Enrichment. GLAD Kids is a child care and pre-k center serving 90 children birth-five. The Harlem Heights Community Charter School currently serves kindergarten through fourth grade and will expand to serve up to fifth grade for the 2020-2021 school year.
Harlem Heights was originally settled as a rural agricultural community. Approximately 780 children live in a mixture of single-family homes and multi-family apartments. Demographically, the population is approximately 70% Hispanic, 20% African-American, and 8% Caucasian. The poverty rate for children in Harlem Heights is more than twice the county average, with family income 40% below the county average. Families are not able to easily access family support services located in downtown Fort Myers, and benefit greatly from programs located within the neighborhood.