View photos from the event HERE.
On March 1st, La Quinta Country Club was filled with old bags. 204 of them, to be precise. But no, it’s not what you’re thinking—it was not a gathering of the older ladies in our community. In fact, many of the attendees of the Old Bags Luncheon were among the youngest of our area’s philanthropists. And they had come to the benefit for Gilda’s Desert Cities to see if they could snag one or more of the stunning new or gently used designer handbags that give the event its provocative name.
Inaugurated 17 years ago in Palm Beach, Florida, the event is now held in many cities around the country, explained Maria Elena Geyer, Gilda’s President and CEO. “But only one Old Bags Luncheon is licensed in a geographic area, and Gilda’s is very pleased to be our area’s exclusive licensee.”
At the heart of the event is a silent auction of the irresistible designer bags, which had been gathered at “purse parties” held by Lisa Boeckmann, Kimberly Lee, The Jewelry Bar, and Saks Fifth Avenue or donated individually. (Designer Nancy Gonzalez contributed one.) The bags were appealingly displayed on tables winding around the clubhouse terraces and had more than 190 attendees browsing and bidding for several hours, as they sipped wine or cocktails, nibbled on appetizers and enjoyed the panoramic views. Some took the option to “Buy Now,” and paid the up to 4-figure top price, thus eliminating the possibility of being out-bid.
The majority of the bags had disappeared from the display by the time the auction officially closed and guests were invited to enter the pavilion for the gourmet luncheon and program. They gasped at the beauty of the spring-like room, with hot pink tablecloths and floral centerpieces—provided by Moller’s Nursery—of white hydrangeas, cream-colored roses and bright yellow forsythia branches towering four feet high.
A flavorful lobster bisque and “home grown” salad of roasted chicken, spinach, local desert citrus and dates, and pecan goat cheese truffles was served as models gracefully wound their way among the tables, showing off fashions from GRAYSE and accessories from The Jewelry Bar.
President/CEO Geyer welcomed the attendees, warmly acknowledged Suzie Glazer Burt, who made it possible to hold the luncheon at La Quinta, and introduced Old Bags Luncheon Chair Donna Dunn, ASID, who organized the event and oversaw not only the collection but also the knock-out display of the bags. (Event Committee members working with Dunn were Geyer, Casey Ging, Jennie Rayner, Anita Roark, and Kristine Schultz.)
Dunn, in turn, introduced guest speaker Glenn Thomas, a Saks Fifth Avenue Personal Shopper with many tales to tell. And she brought Honoree Gayle Hodges to the podium to thank her for her immense support of Gilda’s. (Hodges spearheaded a campaign that raised an amazing $84,000 for major facility expansion.)
Among the many who contributed time, talent or treasure to the luncheon’s success were the Event Sponsors. At the top level was the Kelly Sponsor, Sharon Miller. Next was the Ricky Sponsor: Patios Plus together with Gerald and Donna Dunn. And Diana Sponsors were The Wasserman Foundation, Harold Matzner, The Auen Foundation, Prime Time International and Ellis and Gillian Goodman. The media sponsor was Alpha Media.
Gilda’s Board members and spouses in attendance were Chairman Paul Golden; Donna Dunn and husband Gerald; Bert Garland and wife, Elaine; Phyllis Greene; Jerold Heisler; Gerri Hinkes, wife of Dr. Paul Hinkes; Charles Riach and wife Carleen; Susan Shankman; Maxwell Stern and his wife, Barbara; Margie Taft; and Peter Wasserman and wife Judi. Other prominent guests included Gillian Goodman, Lindi Biggi, Suzanne Metzger, Ellen Way of Primetime and the National Charity League, Patty Newman of the Coachella Valley Wellness Foundation, and Desert Oasis Healthcare’s Dr. Teresa Hodgkins.
There was unexpected excitement at the end of the luncheon as volunteers delivered the bags to the highest bidders, right at their table. Delighted recipients showed off the purses to tablemates, who shared in the joyful moment. And thus happily ended the first, highly successful Old Bags Luncheon benefiting the cancer support programs of Gilda’s Desert Cities. With the goal of offering 200 bags to 200 attendees achieved and then some, Dunn and the committee have decided they’ll make this an annual event.