Hats Off to Hampden annual fundraiser coming April 13

Organziers are hoping you bring your best hat — and your money — to the third annual Hats Off to Hampden on April 13, a $125-per-person gala fundraiser to benefit the Hampden Family Center. A "top hat" table for 10 costs $1,250.

Last year's event raised about $70,000 of the center's budget of $418,000 budget. The family center, which receives no government funding and depends on private donations and foundation grants, helps Hampden residents with everything from after-school tutoring to applying for food stamps, gas and electric bill assistance and other social services. The center, 1104 West 36th St., also offers Graduate Equivalency Diploma (GED) and adult literacy classes, as well as programs for children, such as Study Buddy and the Access Art/Youthlight Photography Project.

This year's fundraiser again will be held at Gutierrez Studios, 2010 Clipper Mill Road, No. 129, in Woodberry, from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m., an hour longer than in past years, said Lisa Ghinger, executive director of the family center. The event will include live music, plus silent and live auctions that include jewelry, a football signed by Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, 14 Baltimore Orioles box seats, tickets to a taping of the Kelly & Michael daytime talk show in New York and an overnight stay at actor Robert DeNiro's Greenwich Hotel, concert tickets to Justin Timberlake, Beyonce and Sting, a weekend stay at the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Resort & Spa, and a 10-piece Calphalon Unison cookware set.

Also up for grabs will be a full dinner for 10 in your house, cooked by Chad Gauss, chef/owner of The Food Market, a popular Hampden restaurant, Ghinger said. David Wells, owner of The Wine Source in Hampden will pair the food with wines, Ghinger said. The Wine Source will be providing libations for the event, and The Food Market will provide the food.

Dr. Seuss hats, beetle hats, cowboy hats, fascinators, Roaring '20s hats, straw hats, black hats with bows, parrot head hats, fedoras and berets.

Last year's big story from Hats Off to Hampden was Stacey Vandiver, of Guilford, co-owner of Soul Body, a barre, pilates and yoga instruction studio in the Bare Hills Racquet and Fitness Club. She and a friend won a bidding war for four tickets to see Madonna at the Verizon Center in Washington. The final bid was whopping $3,700.

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