Festival of Tables raises $14,000

Published 9:46 am Tuesday, August 18, 2015

NW0818 TableTea
JOHNSON CITY — As part of the third annual Festival of Tables organized by the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary, more than 300 guests came Saturday evening to admire lavishly decorated tables and to share dinner together at the Holiday Inn.
Forty companies, organizations and individuals from Carter, Unicoi and Washington counties created themed table settings and centerpieces representing their purposes and passions.
From ticket proceeds, table sponsorships and a silent auction with items’ combined value estimated at $8,000, the event raised more than $14,000. Funds will support the Salvation Army’s Christmas Angel Tree program, the homeless shelter and kitchen, and programs that support low-income seniors and children, including sending children to summer camp.
Last year alone in Carter, Washington, Greene and Unicoi counties, the Salvation Army fed hungry, provided nights of care to homeless, helped provide clothing, household items, food baskets, rent assistance and Christmas gifts valuing $1,131,381.
“One hundred percent is given right back into the community, so it really is a blessing that we have it,” said Event Chair Shirley Lilley. “Everybody is so generous.”
Themes represented the variety of organizations present and their interests like “Let’s Go Racing,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Magical Fairy Garden.” Some included take-home items like costume jewelry, finger foods or handmade art. Materials ranged from magazine pages to vegetables and from porcelain birds to jeweled towers. Many tables had centerpieces over five feet tall and detailed to the top, while others had extravagant seat covers, world relics or gardening supplies.
From Gracious Designs, a home décor store in Johnson City, Marty Glasgow and her interior designer Cassie Kitzmiller designed a “Gracious Harvest Table” in seasonal fall garlands, statuary and dishware from their collection. This is their third year participating and Glasgow was very enthusiastic about the cause.
“I think that anytime you support the Salvation Army, it is helping our community because they do tremendous charitable work to help the poor, and I really believe that’s a mission we should all have—to help each other,” she said.
Not only does the festival help those in need, but it also gives organizations an opportunity to showcase their creativity and consideration for their community members.
A wide variety of table sponsors were present including real estate agencies, banks, artists, Anna Marie Florist, the Johnson City Mall, Mahoney’s, an antique mall, a holiday store, a garden club, the Jonesborough Senior Center and Science Hill High School, whose string ensemble provided the entertainment during the viewing before dinner.
Participants spent days and even weeks preparing for the event and were proud to be a part of such a creative fundraiser. Renee Pitts, a retired art teacher, saw the festival as a fun and exciting opportunity to create a table representing art for everyday living by mixing vintage collectibles with her own hand-painted work.
Because her mother painted Blue Ridge Pottery in Erwin when she was young, Pitts incorporated a variety of pieces of their dinnerware into her settings, along with antique quilt pieces as chargers. Her centerpiece is a mannequin ornamented in antique doilies, old lace from a general store and quilt pieces. She painted inspirational phrases on her silverware and topped each place setting with a hand-painted canvas for guests to take home.
“It’s a blessing to be able to use your talents and abilities for ministering to other people and serving other people,” she said. “Teaching is being a servant. You don’t think of it that way, but it is. Now I get to do that in the community and I’m just thrilled about it.”
Glasgow summarized the purpose of the event and the sentiment of all in attendance.
“Everybody has had down times in their lives, and when we can reach out and be a part of helping somebody else, it’s really important,” she said. “That’s what Salvation Army does: they help people when they are down on their luck or just in desperate circumstances. They’re a real blessing. Anything we can do to assist the Salvation Army, we love to do.”

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