Anyone in Naples can tell you, the last weekend in January is the Naples Winter Wine Festival weekend.
This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the streets may not have been buzzing with celebrity chef sightings, but Naples’ top philanthropic event and one of the country’s premier charity wine auctions soldiered on in a unique, all-virtual format to advance its mission of helping local children in need.
The three-pronged approach included a live telethon on WINK-TV (with a performance by Grammy- and Tony-Award-winner Heather Headley, among others), a private invitation-only live, virtual auction and an online auction open to the public. All in, more than $7.3 million was raised to fund grants for Collier County children’s charities and other initiatives spearheaded by the founding organization, the Naples Children & Education Foundation. That included a record-breaking $678,000 from the annual online auction in its seventh year.
The 2021 event, despite the odds, certainly lived up to its theme, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”—and especially noteworthy was the virtual paddle raise in the private auction that raised $5.5 million alone, proving nothing could get in the way of the attendees’ drive to support the cause.
Photos Courtesy of the Naples Children & Education Foundation