For the children
Those needing a good excuse to dress up in formal attire, taste gourmet food prepared by some of the area’s best chefs and be entertained by a musician and hear stories passed down from a survivor of one of the world’s most well-known tragedies, need to look no further than the Cherish The Child Foundation’s Shipboard Dining Gala.
The April 11 event will be held at the Titanic Museum Attraction, which is honoring the youngest passengers on the ill-fated ship with a new exhibit this year. The April event will feature cuisine from at least nine area chefs. The chefs will be stationed at different locations, with attendees stopping to taste as they make their way through.
Musical entertainment will be provided by harpist Anne Jackson of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, and guests will also be entertained by stories from guest of honor Helen Benziger, the great-granddaughter of the “Unsinkable” Molly Brown, one of the survivors of the April 15, 1912, tragedy in the North Atlantic Ocean.
Individual tickets are $100, and VIP sponsorships are available for $1,000 to $2,500. The silver $1,000 sponsorship provides four tickets, $1,500 gold sponsorship provides six tickets and the $2,500 platinum sponsorship includes eight tickets.
Brenda Tweed, executive director of Cherish The Child Foundation, said because everything from the venue to the food is being donated, all proceeds will go to the foundation to use in support of Smoky Mountain Children’s Home in Sevierville.
Those monies will be used for helping residents of the children’s home. Such funds in the recent past have been used to purchase a 12-passenger van and an enclosed box truck. The van has been put to use for one of the cottages, to provide transportation.
“By giving the individual cottages a van for the houseparents and the children, they used to have to drive like an institution by bus and now they drive in these unmarked vans which makes the children feel more normal,” said Tweed.
That normalcy is important to the 150 or so kids for whom normalcy is welcome after coming from situations that for many are unbearable or frightening.
“They are able to pick up and go like a family now, and it provides these kids a real experience of what a family should be,” she said. “So we’re thrilled to be able to help with that.”
The box truck has helped the home with collecting donations and transporting items. When individuals and businesses who donate items such as sheets, furniture, appliances and electronics, The Home now has a better way to transport those items than lower capacity pickup trucks.
“Also, there are sister orphanages in the area, in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina, and when we get an overabundance of things, we can share with other orphanages,” Tweed said.
The foundation, with the help of Chef’s Catering, also provided Christmas dinners to all of the houseparents, Tweed said. This gave them a break from cooking a daily meal for up to eight children.
“They are the unsung heroes,” Tweed said of the houseparents. “People don’t realize how tough their job is.”
Houseparents not only take care of the daily physical needs for the children in their care, they deal with their emotional needs as well.
Tweed said many people in the county may not realize what The Home is for and what it does for the children in its care. It’s not a home for juvenile delinquents. It’s place for a child to come while they wait for their home life to improve. It’s a place they come to heal, to learn how to succeed and get a chance to have a normal life that’s not available at home.
“Children who have been starved, beaten, abused, neglected and thrown away by the very people who brought them into this world, are finally able to find safety and protection at The Home,” Tweed said. “For the first time in many of these broken children’s lives, they are given the opportunity to heal from the horrors life has handed to them.”
Those interested in helping Cherish the Child can purchase tickets for the Titanic event at the Inn at Christmas Place and Praise 96.3, which will be in attendance at the event. Those who wish to be a VIP sponsor may call Tweed at 850-8462 or email to Btweed@cherishthechild.net. The deadline to purchase tickets is March 29.