It was an evening of chocolate pairings, giving back and good deeds.
Love In the Name of Christ of Tinley Park hosted its fourth annual Chocolate Tasting fundraiser Feb. 16.
The event, held at Trinity Christian College, was designed to help the non-profit organization in supporting clients in need.
New this time around, there was a VIP reception for top donors and sponsors to help kick-off the fundraiser.
The cost for early-bird tickets to the fundraiser was $25, and general admission was $30.
At the event, guests enjoyed appetizers, Endangered Species Chocolate, silent and live auctions, and live music by two guitarists.
Servers on hand throughout the fundraiser offered a selection of pairings, including dark chocolate paired with cranberries and almonds, dark hazelnut toffee chocolate paired with expresso cheese and mandarin orange, and dark chocolate with caramel and sea salt paired with bacon.
“[Endangered Species Chocolate,] they were kind of enough to donate all the tasting chocolates for us this time,” Love INC of Tinley Park Executive Director Kim Sullivan said.
During the event, a number of items were auctioned off. This included a Safari and one-night stay package with La Banque Hotel.
“It’s a travel-themed live auction this time,” Sullivan said. “I thought it went well with Valentine’s Day.”
A video presentation displayed during the event revealed the efforts of Love INC of Tinley Park to support Dee, a recipient of a recent Christmas Miracle Project whose last name, by request, is to not be revealed.
The organization first became connected with Dee about three years ago, Sullivan said. Since then, Dee’s life has changed thanks, in part, to the budgeting assistance provided to her following a divorce.
Love INC of Tinley Park utilizes an intake process to help guide the way they extend services to help its clients.
“As we continue to layer those services, we’re creating a relationship,” Sullivan said. “We’re showing that we really care about the person. We don’t want to just give something and leave them where they’re at, but we want to offer any resources we have that might be able to help them come into a different place.”
Love INC of Tinley Park was hoping to raise $25,000 at this year’s Chocolate Tasting to support its efforts. Last year, the organization raised roughly $17,000.
Love INC of Tinley Park currently has connections with 18 partner churches, giving the organization the ability to reach beyond Tinley Park to Orland Park, Orland Hills, Country Club Hills, Matteson and Oak Forest.
“There’s no sense in every church having somebody searching out whether the need is legitimate or not,” Sullivan said. “If we can get one place that can do that, we can … tap different resources within our churches. Then, it’s not taxing to one church. Plus, we’re making better use of benevolent funds at the church because we’re not repeating.”
The fundraiser has a history of bringing in new pastors to help give them of a sense of whether they would like to see their church partner with Love INC of Tinley Park.
“They typically know at these events, they’re going to really hear what the heart of Love INC is through either what Kim [Sullivan] or I share with people,” Love INC of Tinley Park Board President Ryan Bergeron said. “They’re going to find out what other churches are involved. I think the biggest thing, like I said, they really want to find out what does Love INC really do. Because our name is not really pointed in what our work is, so I think a lot of times they’ll come here to figure out what is it they actually do.”
Bergeron said he thinks a lot of pastors like the idea of working with Love of INC of Tinley Park and its other partner churches of different denominations, but they don’t know how to take that idea and run with it.
“That’s where we try to come in to help,” he said.
The Chocolate Tasting serves as the organization’s biggest event, Sullivan said. This year, Love INC of Tinley Park is looking to hold its inaugural golf outing to help raise funds, as well.
If unable to attend the non-profit organization’s fundraiser and interested in giving back, visit www.loveinctp.org.