17th Annual Sharefest Gala goes live with Kobe jersey and other auction items – Daily Breeze

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Normally, the Sharefest Gala fundraiser has all the bells and whistles: the red carpet, the guests in formal dress and the intriguing auction items.

But it’s 2020. And so on Friday, October 30, guests of the 17th Annual Evening Gala will be able to attend in their pajamas and enjoy popcorn – since it will be virtual. But they will still have the entertainment and the fun auction, which will include an autographed Kobe Bryant jersey and other items.

Participants will also be able to contribute to the local nonprofit association, which is dedicated to helping underserved students and local communities throughout the South Bay, Port area and Long Beach.

“I was hesitant to even do a virtual gala,” said Chad Mayer, executive director of Sharefest, “but our saving grace was that this event takes place in the fall rather than the spring” while the pandemic was still so news.

This allowed the association to learn and build on the experiences of other charities that came before it, said Mayer.

This year’s event will be shorter than the live presentations, but it still attracts sponsors and attendees who should give Sharefest a much needed dose of cash and enthusiasm.

Since the pandemic, the association has had to cut staff and expenses by 50%, Mayer said.

Even before the pandemic struck, the association had already chosen its theme for the year, which is “Dedication”, inspired by a quote from Bryant, the Lakers legend who died earlier this year: “Great things come. hard work and persistence. No excuses. Dedication sees dreams come true.

The signed jersey was donated by Joyce Sharman, wife of the late Hall of Famer Bill Sharman, who coached the Lakers for their first championship in 1972.

Other elements include trips with flexible travel plans. The jersey will remain open for auction until November 13, while other items will only be available until 9 p.m. on Friday, October 30.

Plans for the virtual event, which is slated for a pre-show at 6:30 p.m. with the regular schedule at 7 p.m., include special guests, such as Pau Gasol, a former Laker who teamed up with Bryant to win two NBA championships in 2009 and 2010; star basketball player, Olympic gold medalist and WNBA League MVP Lisa Leslie; comedian Colin Mochrie from the TV show “Whose Line is it Anyway”; and Heisman Trophy winner and former USC quarterback Matt Leinart.

The evening will be complemented by inspiring stories from young people, instructors and community members who have benefited from Sharefest. Typically raising around $ 350,000 each year, galas bring in a much needed portion of Sharefest’s annual budget.

Funds raised this year will help launch a new workforce development program designed to connect young people to business careers.

“Some of these students (Sharefest help) are in host families, so it’s a huge obstacle” to giving themselves a future while helping to rebuild the country’s middle class, “Mayer said.

Sharefest, founded in 2003, also hopes to expand its Sharefest Alumni pilot program which provides funding and mentorship to young people who are pursuing their college education.

“In a year when everything was going wrong in the world, we could still see (in 2020) 85 high school students chasing their dreams of graduating from high school,” Mayer said of the young people who have already been tutored and supervised. It was a record for the program so far, Mayer said.

Participation in the virtual gala is free, but online registration is required. Once you register – on sharefestgala.org – you can view the auction items.

In addition to serving the youth of the community, Sharefest is probably best known for its annual Volunteer Community Service Day which sends hundreds of volunteer teams to beautify school campuses, public buildings and local parks by painting buildings. , making repairs and planting greenery.

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