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Molly O. Smith, director of the Boys & Girls Club of Bluffton, has something to say to a group of women from Colleton River Plantation.
Thank you, thank you, thank you are the words Smith uses to express her gratitude to the women behind the organization's "Great Futures Start Here" annual gala on March 5 at Colleton River.
"These dynamic women know what they are doing," Smith said. "They focused on sponsorship. We're doing things with this gala on a different level that we've never done before. The process they are taking us through is amazing."
The philanthropic group calls itself the Committee of Ten, which actually is 16 women who feel passion and commitment to the Boys & Girls Club and set out to make a difference in their community.
It is led by Sally Hickman, whose connection to the organization runs deep. Hickman and her husband, Steve, visited the Hilton Head Boys & Girls Club several years ago, which inspired Steve Hickman to start a Boys & Girls Club in the couple's previous home of Adrian, Mich. Sally Hickman is a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Bluffton's board of directors.
Leisa Cram, who was chairwoman of a Hilton Head Boys & Girls Club gala and sat on its board for eight years, and Lynne Einloth, who has volunteered for many organizations, including the Heart + Soul Jewel Ball fundraiser in La Jolla, Calif., are the co-chairwomen for the Bluffton gala.
"The Boys & Girls Club offers the children an opportunity to improve their quality of life in a way they might not experience otherwise," Einloth said.
Other committee members include those in the travel, interior design, publishing and food industries. Most of them have been involved in fundraising throughout their lives, which proved helpful when gathering auction items that will be bid on at the gala.
A four-night stay at a private house in Maine, a cottage stay in Carmel, Calif., a cottage stay at Colleton River Plantation, a Cartier pin brooch and an oyster roast for 50 people on a private island near Bluffton are among the offerings.
About 30 children from the Boys & Girls Club will attend the gala, some of whom will greet the roughly 240 guests at the door. Gullah singers will entertain patrons as they arrive.
The gala is the Bluffton club's biggest fundraiser of the year. Hampton Hall and Sun City Hilton Head also have organized past events. Smith said about $3,500 was raised, after expenses, at last year's event.
"We've raised more money right now, and the gala has not even happened yet," Smith added. "Just them (committee) being advocates of the Boys & Girls Club, getting the word out, these ladies have changed our lives by being part of this."
The money will go toward the 6-year-old club's operating costs and other needs on its wish list, such as upgrading the computer system and giving the building an overall facelift. The facility is at the Bluffton schools campus on McCracken Road and is used by 257 children. At its peak, 755 children were enrolled, but the cutting of state and federal money resulted in fewer students due to a reduced staff.
"I want to let this dynamic group of women know they are helping us to change lives and change America. I don't know why they chose Bluffton, but I thank them that they did. They're lifting us up," Smith said.