NAPLES, Fla. — Each year the Naples Winter Wine Festival raises millions of dollar with its extravagant auction and lavish party.
But all that glitz and glamor is for a great cause. Every dollar from the Wine Festival helps local children’s charities.
On Friday, festival organizers hosted Meet The Kids Day so donors could see the children who have had their lives changed by the event.
“Me and everybody else, we’re really appreciative of what everybody does here,” said Zachary Rosenberg, a student at the ABLE Academy. “It’s a really great help when it comes to helping us with our programs, providing us with the tools to be the best we can.”
ABLE Academy, a school for children with autism and other behavioral needs.
It’s is just one of the local charities that benefit from the millions of dollars raised by the Naples Winter Wine Festival.
“Over the last 22 years we’ve raised over 220 million dollars, and 100 percent has stayed here in Collier County and supported at risk and underprivileged children,” said Maria Jimenez-Lara, the CEO of the Naples Children & Education Foundation, which runs the Wine Festival.
On Friday, one day before the Wine Festival’s auction, the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County hosted those charities so they could tell their stories to the donors.
“Meet The Kids Day we consider to be the most important day because we’re able to show our patrons why it’s so important and how much we appreciate what they do for our community,” Jimenez-Lara said.
Eighth-grader Jamie Raudales was happy to talk to donors Friday about her charity, Pace Center for Girls.
“It makes me feel great because I want people to know more about Pace Center for Girls,” Raudales said. “Pace has helped me the past two half years. It deserves this recognition.”
Last year the Wine Festival raised Eight Million Dollars, even though the live event was canceled by the pandemic.
Wood Bienaime said the pandemic makes him especially grateful that the Wine Festival has supported his charities — Meals of Hope, Grace Place, and Brighter Bites.
“All of us, we’re trying to make the world a better place,” said Bienaime, a senior at Golden Gate High School. COVID-19 hit us really hard man.”
Fifty charities were represented here at Meet The Kids Day, and all 50 will receive support from the money raised tomorrow at the Naples Winter Wine Festival.