There’s something for the entire family at the third annual Las Sendas Christmas Boutique, and it’s all for a good cause.
Athletes and book authors will sign autographs, local vendors will sell their wares, and more than $7,000 in raffle prizes will be won Nov. 19-21 at the Trailhead Members Club at Las Sendas, 7900 E. Eaglecrest Drive in
The money raised will benefit the Sunshine Acres Children’s Home, 3405 N. Higley Road in Mesa. The home is for boys and girls ages 5 to 15 who are abused, neglected, abandoned or dependent.
With aid from friends, family members and the community, and a will to help out, Sandi Ciaramitaro began organizing the event three years ago.
It just keeps growing bigger and better each year, she said. The past two years, the boutique has raised about $30,000 for the children’s home, and this year she hopes to match that.
It’s taken seven months to organize this year’s event, with help from her two good friends Kathy Weiler-Marshal of Mesa and Nancy Simmons of Fountain Hills. Ciaramitaro also put together a glossy 16-page magazine specifically for the event with the help of World Publishing Corp., which donated its services for the 5,000 copies.
After taking a tour through Sunshine Acres, she knew she wanted to do something to help.
"You just see the happiest families," said Ciaramitaro, who is married with two children. "These kids get a family for life."
At Sunshine Acres, seven homes house 70 kids, and each home has its own set of parents. Kids live there at least a year and can stay until they graduate from college, said Kim Phillippi, an office manager for Sunshine Acres.
Sunshine Acres does not get state or federal money, and receives its $2 million annual budget from unsolicited private and corporate donations from the community, she said.
Kids living at Sunshine Acres participate in a horticulture program at their school and will be selling banana trees, desert plants, cactuses and Christmas wreaths at the boutique, said Phillippi, who is excited for the upcoming boutique.
"Oh, my goodness, it’s a wonderful, wonderful outpouring of love and support for Sunshine Acres and the love we serve," Phillippi said. "We are very appreciative of Sandi and the community."
Ciaramitaro is more than excited about all the activities planned for this year’s event.
"I have yet to get a ‘No’ from a company," Ciaramitaro said. "The support is amazing. I’m just the conduit. It’s a community unity thing."
Everything from the clubhouse and outside lighting, to the magazine advertising and the raffle items, have all been donated, Ciaramitaro said.
Friday will feature a live ESPN radio broadcast for the show "Calling All Sports with Roc & Manuch," followed by an autograph session with several athletes including Arizona Diamondbacks player Shea Hillenbrand, Boston Red Sox player Adam Hyzdu, New York Mets pitcher Steve Trachsel and Atlanta Braves pitcher Russ Ortiz.
On that Saturday, Diana Gabaldon, a New York Times best-selling author of "Outlander" romance series, will sign her book along with local author Dee Strickland Johnson, who wrote "Arizona Herstory: Tales from Her Storied Past," a winner of the Academy of Western Artists’ Will Rogers Medallion Award. Other local authors will read from their children’s books.
Santa Claus will be at the boutique daily from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for free pictures. Raffle tickets at $5 each or five for $20 are available now for prizes including gift certificates from stores and services throughout the Valley.
Check it out
What: Las Sendas Christmas Boutique
When: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 19; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 20 and Nov. 21
Where: Las Sendas Trailhead Club, 7900 E. Eaglecrest Drive, off Power and Thomas roads in Mesa
Info: To purchase advance raffle tickets, call Sonya Stevens at (480) 396-1704.