Writer Joseph J. Airdo // Photography by Meikel Nagel

This February, Anthem Giving Circle will invite the community to step into Wonderland and celebrate everyone’s very merry un-birthday with a fabulous tea party with libations, from which they may even walk away with their new favorite handbag.

“‘Alice in Wonderland’ is such a classic story,” says Diane Steenman, who is co-chair of this
year’s event, alongside Rhonda Van Dyke and Jan Lessman. “Selecting it as our theme for this year’s Purses for a Purpose fundraiser has provided us with a lot of opportunities for fun.”

Scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 7 in Anthem Country Club’s Ironwood Ballroom, the annual event will feature 150 silent-auction purses, five live-auction purses and, new this year, three raffle purses — including a Paloma spike empire leather clutch from Christian Louboutin valued at more than $1,000.

“This structured clutch done in grainy calfskin leather is embellished with an array of metal studs at the flap,” says Steenman, noting that the winner of the grand raffle purse may choose to either keep it or return it to Nordstrom for store credit. “An optional chain crossbody strap allows you to carry the style hands-free, while the red interior completes the bag with signature aplomb. It is just exquisite. ”

Event tickets are $50 and include a drink and hors d’oeuvres. Raffle tickets — which cost $20 for five or $50 for 15 — can be purchased online in advance of the event on the nonprofit organization’s website.

More than 240 people attended last year’s sold-out event, which carried a western theme and resulted in a 25% increase in raised funds.

“We are so thankful to the community for its generosity,” says Steenman, noting that the nonprofit organization is also grateful to Anthem Country Club for its surprise donations and help with the event. “Our guests were just unbelievably giving last year. We even had one purse go for $3,000.”

That money allowed Anthem Giving Circle to continue its various charitable efforts, which include providing financial assistance to those struggling to pay for medical bills, rent, utilities, home and automotive repairs and emergency expenses.

“As a result of last year’s successful Purses for a Purpose fundraiser, we have been able to increase our service area to include the communities of New River and Black Canyon City,” adds Steenman, noting that all recipients are vetted by St. Vincent de Paul.

The nonprofit organization also offers educational scholarships, provides area schools with gift cards that they can give to students in need, donates items to the St. Vincent de Paul Society and Foothills Food Bank and Resource Center and collects new and gently used bras for St. Vincent de Paul’s fall undergarment drive.

“We have seen an increase in need of 28% over last year,” says Steenman, noting that the nonprofit organization is always accepting new members. “Thanks to the community’s extraordinary generosity, Anthem Giving Circle has been able to raise single-family donations 66% and expand our gift card program to include seven more schools.”

Speaking of the gift card program, Steenman says that very touching moments occurred this past fall when a representative from Anthem Giving Circle hand-delivered the first-time donation to two of the schools included in the expansion.

“The administrator at one school and the nurse at the other broke into tears because they were in such need of money for the students,” Steenman explains. “They could not thank us enough for the donation.

“In fact, during the afternoon delivery to one of the schools, there was a young boy sitting in the office, eating a granola bar that one of the administrators had bought for him with money out of their own pocket because he had not eaten since the night before. That just goes to show you how much these donations are needed.”

Of course, the more money that Anthem Giving Circle is able to accumulate through its fundraisers, the more it is able to pour back into the community. Purses in Wonderland offers the perfect opportunity to support the nonprofit organization’s admirable mission while having a lot of fun in the process.

Whereas last year’s attendees wore western attire, Steenman hopes to see plenty of Madd Hatters, March Hares, Queens of Hearts and Cheshire Cats this year.

“We are encouraging everybody this year to come dressed for a Wonderland tea party,” she says. “You do not have to get dressed up to attend, but you certainly can. A new tea party hat could be just the item. That always makes everything more fun!”

Purses in Wonderland
Tuesday, Feb. 7 // 5–8 p.m. // Anthem Country Club’s Ironwood Ballroom // 41551 N. Anthem Hills Drive, Anthem // $50 // anthemgivingcircle.com