Giving Hearts Gala
The Country Friends, a 64-year-old nonprofit based in Rancho Santa Fe, revealed the charities selected for funding in 2018 at its first ever “Giving Hearts” dinner and dance on Friday, February 2, at the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club. The Country Friends Board of Directors chose 52 agencies for grants this year, based on extensive site visits, interviews and questionnaires. Since its founding in 1954, The Country Friends has awarded nearly $14 million to San Diego County-based charities, with special emphasis on those that aid women, children, the elderly, the military, and the disabled.
“We wanted to create a special evening for our selected charities,” explained Deb Cross, President of The Country Friends, who co-chaired the gala with her husband, Les. “They are the heartbeat of our community, helping thousands of San Diegans last year alone.” In keeping with the “Giving Hearts” theme, guests filled out paper hearts at each table with their names and donations. The event raised more than $60,000 for The Country Friends Legacy Campaign, chaired by Les Cross. The campaign kicked off three years ago with the goal of paying off the construction loan on the organization’s Consignment Shop on El Tordo in Rancho Santa Fe, and to establish an endowment to ensure funding for human care agencies in the decades to come.
The Country Friends rolled out the red carpet for this year’s honorees and guests, featuring a “meet and greet” with celebrity impersonator Eileen Finney, portraying the late comedian Joan Rivers. Adding to the festivities, waiters passed Champagne and hors d’oeuvres as photographers snapped pictures. A three-course dinner followed. Ranch & Coast editor and former TV anchor Andrea Naversen, a member of The Country Friends Board of Directors, served as emcee, announcing the charities selected for funding. The evening concluded with dessert and dancing on the Sunset Terrace.
The Country Friends raises money through membership and fundraiser, including its signature fundraiser, the Art of Fashion. The runway show and luncheon is presented in partnership with South Coast Plaza each September at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe. The organization also supports charities through proceeds from its Consignment Shop, selling high-end furniture, china, crystal, and objets d’art. thecountryfriends.org