Gala to ring in New Year’s while raising money

It’s part casual, part chic, on New Year’s Eve when party-goers in support of the Frenship Foundation for Leadership will gather for the Denim and Diamonds Gala at the Lubbock Country Club.

When leaders of the Frenship Foundation for Leadership were considering a gala to raise money for the organization, the absence of any similar event over the New Year holiday encouraged them to aim for that date.

“We were looking at a later date, actually, in February,” Gina Laughlin, co-chair of the Denim and Diamonds Gala, said. “When a few of the committee members met together, we started looking at the calendar and we thought why not do it New Year’s because there’s not a whole lot going on at that time.”

Laughlin said organizers hope people will come to the gala to ring in the new year and raise money for a good cause.

Frenship Foundation for Leadership Executive Director Cindy Stephens said the foundation leaders hope to have 300 people attend the Denim and Diamonds Gala.

The Frenship Foundation for Leadership provides character scholarships for students, classroom activity grants for teachers, scholarships for teachers and assists teachers who have emergency situations.

Laughlin said nothing is more frustrating for an educator than not having enough money to do educational activities. Foundation funding is available to teachers to help with special activities and lessons.

Troy Vanderburg, a board member on both the Frenship Independent School District and the Frenship Foundation for Leadership, said he likes that funds raised by the Frenship Foundation for Leadership go directly to benefit students and teachers.

“The money doesn’t go to the Frenship (ISD) general fund,” he said.

Emily Nowlain, an instructional software manager for Frenship ISD, is also co-chair of the Denim and Diamonds Gala. When she and her husband lived in the Dallas Metroplex, she said they often went out for New Year’s Eve.

“But in Lubbock, we really don’t do that much,” she said, acknowledging that is probably because there haven’t been many New Year’s Eve events. “I’m very excited.”

In the past, Laughlin said her family has held small celebrations of the new year with other families, even going to Ruidoso a few times.

“Just very small, family-oriented things,” Laughlin said in describing her previous celebrations, “partially because there’s not a whole lot of options that I guess, we’re interested in.”

Vanderburg said his New Year’s Eve traditions usually center around his family.

“Typically, I’m with a group of friends, or I’m watching New Year’s Eve on TV and then going to bed,” he said. But this year, he said he is looking forward to the gala.

“I think it’ll be a nice evening for a very good cause, and in a very good environment,” Vanderburg said. “It just sounds like a lot of fun.”

Laughlin said she is also very excited to attend an event for New Year’s Eve.

As those attending the gala enter the Lubbock Country Club, they will be able to have their pictures made. A silent auction will be held in the back hallway before the grand ballroom, and a live auction will be held later in the evening. A buffet meal will be served at 7:30 p.m. in the grand ballroom, including chicken, fish and a prime rib carving station.

Dancing will begin after the live auction, with Chuck Colbert deejaying the event with a mix of music.

“We decided to go with a DJ so we could have a wide variety of songs,” Stephens said.

Laughlin said the theme of “Denim and Diamonds” will allow for people to wear either more formal cocktail or more casual jeans and boots.

“After Christmas, I don’t personally feel like going out and doing a whole lot of shopping,” Laughlin said. “It’s kind of the best of both worlds. You can do as much or as little as you want, as far as dressing.”

The majority of tickets will be sold in advance of “Denim and Diamonds,” Laughlin said. Each ticket will be $75 and will include a four-star meal, dancing, a midnight champagne toast and noisemakers.

In addition, corporate tables seating eight people will be available for $750.

To purchase tickets, contact Stephens at (806) 866-6962 or at (806) 866-9541.

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