Opportunity To “Ignite Hope” For Children At Star-Studded May 16 Gala

Tess Batten knows she can’t help all 20 million children in Africa who will be orphaned by the AIDS epidemic by 2010. But the volunteer for Claremont-based KidCare International is helping as many as she can.

“When I went to South Africa and saw the conditions there, my heart was just broken” the Upland resident said. “The children in Africa, the orphans, are going through a total loss of identity. Their parents are gone and a lot of them have been on the streets, digging in the garbage for food. We have been taking them to our orphanages. These good people down there are partnering with us to help feed and care for those children.”

As a way to ignite hope among desperately disadvantaged children, KidCare International is inviting residents of the greater Los Angeles area to attend a benefit on Friday, May 16 to raise funds for a variety of programs that will provide help for AIDS orphans in Africa and poor children locally and in Russia, Mexico, Kosovo and India.

The “Ignite Hope” fundraising gala, dinner and silent auction will be held on Friday, May 16 from 7-10 p.m. in the ballroom at the Doubletree Hotel, 555 W. Foothill Blvd. in Claremont. Silent Auction beginning at 6.

The event will feature singer-songwriter Vonda Shepard, a featured performer on the “Ally McBeal” television show; actress Melody Rogers of “2 on the Town”; and Ted Chen, co-anchor of weekend editions of “Today in L.A.” and a reporter for Channel 4 News.

“The goal of this event is to expose the mission and goals of KidCare International to people who are interested in impacting the world in a positive way – who want to help the kids who are suffering the long-term results of the AIDS pandemic,” said Larry Kapchinsky, founder of the nonprofit humanitarian organization registered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“We want to have a good time and show people what they can do to make a difference, how to get involved and how they are needed. When numbers of people come together, there is a great deal of synergy that comes out of teamwork. And teamwork really is the secret to it – of everybody doing something. We can turn the continent of Africa around if everybody will do something. It’s going to take time, but we can do it.”

The event will include a silent auction featuring prizes such as round-trip tickets for a weekend at a bed-and-breakfast in Vermont, a 42-inch flat screen television and many others donated by local businesses. A video featuring the work volunteers for KidCare International perform will be shown.

“It shows what KidCare does to impact the lives of desperately disadvantaged children,” Kapchinsky said. “It shows what we are doing on the continent of Africa to provide food, clothing, medicine and education for children.”

Funds raised by ticket sales and the silent auction will go toward funding KidCare International programs both locally and internationally that provide food, shelter, educational materials and medical attention to children who are in desperate need.

KidCare funds nine different programs. These include Food for Hunger, feeding children daily worldwide; Humanitarian Aid, responding to disasters with relief supplies; Orphanage Outreach, providing food, shelter and educational opportunities for orphans in South Africa, Tanzania and Russia; an after-school enrichment and mentoring program for local underprivileged children; Sponsor a Child, bringing sustainable resources for children in Africa; KidPaks, providing backpacks filled with toys, hygiene items and clothing to needy children; Promise for African Literacy, providing textbooks and food to school children in Africa; Treasured Daughter, an HIV/AIDS prevention and self-esteem programs for young women ages 15-24; and HIV/AIDS Shelter, clinic, nursery and pre-school for women and their children with HIV and AIDS in South Africa.

Those businesses and individuals who would like to sponsor KidCare and help underwrite the gala are offered a variety of opportunities. This includes a $2,000 platinum sponsorship for 10 dinner tickets, featuring an invitation to a private reception with the guest celebrities and recognition as a platinum sponsor by the master of ceremonies with the company name on all printed materials, programs, press releases, annual reports and the KidCare Web site. Similar recognition is offered through the $1,500 gold sponsorship for eight dinner tickets; the $1,000 silver sponsorship for five dinner tickets and the $500 bronze sponsorship for four dinner tickets.

For more information about the event or to purchase tickets or sponsorships, call 909-624-6101 or log onto the Web site at kc.mwmhost3.com. The tickets are $50 per person.