Over the holiday season, the non-profit organization Steel Magnolias, opened a snowy enchanted village in Naples, in the hopes of raising money and spirits. The group is dedicated to raising money for the Stramski Children’s Developmental Center at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach. They have continued to support the Stramski Center for 20 years through the help of volunteers, raising more than $5.6 million for the center.
People were able to walk by and admire the village and drop off donations at a box on-site. For a limited time, groups were even able to reserve a dining space in the village for a donation of $35 per person. People also had the option to donate $1,000 to have dinner prepared for them on the patio in the middle of the village, followed by a Duffy boat ride around Naples.
The village, named The Stramski Station, was started three years ago by Gary Lee Wolf and Tony Gagliardi. The group reused found materials to add different sections, like an ice-skating pond, Christmas trees, and more buildings to make the village feel fuller and come to life. Though the display looks elaborate and expensive, it’s made entirely out of recycled materials.
This fundraiser sold out on many nights, and in total, it raised thousands of dollars for the Stramski Center.
“I believe that the Stramski Station is a success in two ways,” said Denise Dahlhausen, the 2021 president of Steel Magnolias. “Not only were we raising money, but we were raising awareness too. We had information about the Stramski Center available on-site and people were asking questions about the Center as well, so we were able to inform people about all the work that the Stramski Center does that they would be able to help with their donations.”
Being able to create unique and wonderful experiences, as well as donor opportunities, is the goal of Steel Magnolias.
Besides the holiday opening of the Stramski Station Village, Steel Magnolias has two main events this year that directly benefit the Stramski Center. The first big event is the return of their Signature Event on May 1, which was cancelled in previous years due to COVID-19. The second big event is their annual Golf Tournament on Oct. 24.