Shopping for a cause? ‘It’s in the bag’
"Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize!"
It's the perennial advice from fashion designers – and Feb. 2 will bring an opportunity to practice the mantra like never before.
What's more, while discriminating shoppers and fashion followers snag their one-of-a-kind handbags and purses, they can help people with cancer at the same time.
The Sixth Annual It's in the Bag event, a fundraiser for Legal Information Network for Cancer (LINC), will be held Feb. 2 at The Westin Hotel in Henrico.
Inspired by a similar fundraiser held in South Carolina, It's in the Bag originally featured bags created by local celebrities such as TV anchors and wives of politicians.
Over the years, LINC volunteers have fine-tuned the event to make it their own, moving from celebrity- and artist-created bags to including designer bags and, now, themed bags. A Carytown bag, for example, might include Byrd Theatre movie passes and gift certificates from Carytown restaurants and retailers, while a biker bag might include biking clothes and gift certificates from a bike repair shop and coffee shop.
Chairperson Mary Ann Wright typifies the sense of anticipation that prevails among regular attendees in the days leading up to the event.
"I can't wait to see which new handbag I will add to my collection this year," Wright said recently. "Will it be the Sarah Jessica Parker bag or the Adriana Trigani bag?"
Orchids, scotch and duct tape
In addition to featuring 90 bags in the silent and live auctions – ranging from briefcases, painted purses, specialty and tote bags in styles from dressy and evening style to casual, practical and downright quirky – the event will include designer clothing and a North Carolina vacation.
What's more, there will be a designer dress (and original sketch designs) from Kay Unger; a bag donated by Diana Cantor; a Sarah Jessica Parker orchid from Art Chadwick; and possibly a suit from Alex Garfield and a bag from First Lady Maureen McDonnell.
And for the men – or for women not in the market for accessories – the event will feature live music and hors d'oeuvres as well as beer, bourbon, wine and scotch tastings. The excitement is not all limited to patrons of the event, however, as Carrie O'Malley of Hirschler Fleisher can attest.
"My seven-year-old daughter made a duct tape bag," said O'Malley, "and she is so excited about donating it.
"She made it because she knows what good things LINC does for cancer patients."
This year's fundraiser will have special significance: it will be held in memory of Page McCarthy, who lost her battle with cancer in July.
An avid LINC volunteer, McCarthy chaired the annual event, which has been taken over by her good friend Mary Harvard Nolde.
“Page was a big believer of LINC’s mission," said Nolde following McCarthy's death. "She helped LINC with all their events, but the bag event was very special to her.”
Just two months before she succumbed, McCarthy was recognized with the Allison Held Volunteer Award, named in honor of LINC’s first paid employee, later a volunteer and board member.
At the May awards luncheon, LINC Board of Directors President Mary Ann Wright told the crowd that McCarthy always went above and beyond whatever she was asked to do. "And always with her contagious smile," said Wright.
"She brought the [bag] event to new heights the year she made her 'signature bag' full of goodies," added Wright, "that resulted in bringing in lots of money.
"Up until then, we simply had auctioned interesting and attractive bags, [but] since that event, we fill all the bags!"
Wright noted that McCarthy, who worked as a senior project manager at SunTrust Mortgage, also came up with the idea to put on a concert, pulled together some friends with bands, and raised $3000 in one evening at Capital Ale House.
As a special tribute this year, McCarthy's friends have put together a bag for the live auction which highlights all of her favorite things -- including season tickets to Innsbrook After Hours.
Proceeds from the auction – which last year amounted to $50,000 – will benefit LINC's work to provide people with cancer with resources that ease the day-to-day challenges of cancer.
LINC Executive Director Denise Kranich, who was head of the Innsbrook Foundation when diagnosed with cancer five years ago, said she was fortunate to work for an organization that provided good insurance coverage and allowed ample time off for treatment.
"Some people are not that lucky," she said. "Their insurance may not cover their cancer, or they may not be able to pay for their cancer treatments.
"LINC provides a valuable service by linking cancer patients with pro bono attorneys and financial planners to help them with their non-medical needs," said Kranich.
"So they can concentrate on just getting well. "
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