It was an evening of celebration, chocolate tasting and good deeds.
Shorewood HUGS’ annual Hugs and Wishes Chocolate Ball took guests back in time to revel in Manhattan’s socialite life depicted in the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.
“It’s always good to see your vision come to fruition,” said Molly Babyak, a current board member and past president of Shorewood HUGS, referring to the way this year’s gala has come together. “It’s rewarding to see how hours of work comes to life.”
The annual gala was meant to help the organization in raising funds to grant wishes in 2018. Every year, Shorewood HUGS fulfills approximately 100 wishes to people who are in need, disabled or deserving.
Throughout the banquet hall, chocolate tasting stations were set up for guests to peruse.
Chocolate sponsors this year included Bella Cucina, Candy and Corn, Cheesecakes by James, Covered in Chocolate, Fannie May, HUGS Chocolate Martini Shots, Joliet Junior College Culinary Arts Program, Milano Bakery, Nothing bundt Cakes and Sweet Gallery Cups & Cakes.
Guests tried their hand at betting in the silent auction, bidding on raffle prizes and competing in the Audrey Hepburn look-alike contest. They also enjoyed entertainment from JPW Productions, a cash bar and appetizers catered by Bella Cucina.
With the help of social media, this year’s gala sold out several weeks in advance with 450 tickets purchased. Babyak said the event has a history accomplishing this feat.
“It’s mind-boggling to know we’ve been embraced all these years,” said Sue Coyle, one of the founding members of Shorewood HUGS.
The organization started in 2008 with five friends whose children were friends with one another. Since then, Shorewood HUGS has up to 50 members.
“It means more than we thought it would [seeing the organization in its 10th year,]” said Rita Guenther, another founding member for Shorewood HUGS.
“It means so much [knowing that the organization has seen continued success,]” she said.
To complement the organization’s work, Shorewood HUGS has made its presence in the community known in the past by offering support to Morning Star Mission, Team Make a Difference and the American Cancer Society.
“Shorewood is a small town, and there wasn’t anything else like this before,” Coyle said. “It’s all meant for women to get involved, and our members have embraced it. They have great ideas.”
Coyle gave credit to Shorewood HUGS’ ability to recruit new members enabling them to get the word out about what they strive to do.
“Everyone has different ideas and whenever we can branch out, [the more we’re able] to make a difference,” she said.
Later in the evening, a champagne toast was held to commemorate Shorewood HUGS and its 10th anniversary.
“I think since we have such great support, the organization’s mission will continue,” Guenther said, referring to Shorewood HUGS’ future. “The younger members have gotten involved. It’s more than we ever envisioned.”
This year’s gala was co-chaired by Heidi Serena and Susan Underwood.
To get involved or learn more about the work of Shorewood HUGS, visit www.shorewoodhugs.org.