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History of North Tonawanda Mayor's Charity Snowflake Ball recalled, as 10th event planned

Fri, Jan 17th 2020 07:00 am

Proceeds from North Tonawanda’s 10th Mayor’s Charity Snowflake Ball will benefit the Vietnam Veterans WNY Chapter 77, which maintains a museum in Tonawanda and helps provide food and necessities to veterans and their families in need. This chapter, with its 675 members, is the largest in New York and fifth-largest in the nation.

A nonpolitical event, the fundraiser will take place from 8-11 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 755 Erie Ave., North Tonawanda.

The affair is billed as a night of cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and, of course, music and an open dance floor. Organizers said, “Although this winter has not been the snowiest to date, once inside the hall it will feel like a winter wonderland. Come and enjoy an evening of drinks, great food from local business establishments, and music, as well as supporting a wonderful organization.”

To make a reservation, call the mayor’s office at 716-695-8540.

Those unable to attend but wishing to make a donation can send one to Vietnam Veterans WNY Chapter 77, P.O. Box 92, North Tonawanda, NY 14120.

Sponsorship is $250 and includes recognition at the event.

The idea for North Tonawanda’s Mayor’s Charity Snowflake Ball began in 2010 when the former mayor and current state senator, Rob Ortt, was in office. At that time, the YWCA of the Tonawandas had approached the mayor about its many budget issues. The former mayor, and his wife, Meghan, began brainstorming ways to help the struggling non-for profits due to budget cuts and the economy.

It was then decided that a mayor’s ball could help these charity organizations. It would be a unique way to bring the community together for a social event, while raising money for a worthwhile cause.

Once the idea was formed, a small committee was put in place to work out the details. Ortt and his wife first raised money for the human services program of the YWCA of the Tonawandas at the ball held on the first Saturday of February 2011. This program is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

The second ball in 2012 provided funds for the local Salvation Army. This organization provides for human needs without discrimination. The nonprofit has food distribution and rehabilitation centers, offers children’s programs and provides disaster relief.

In the third year, funds were raised for the local Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts prepare young people to make ethical and good moral choices for their life. It is their promise to do their duty to God and the country.

In the fourth year, the chosen charity was the Twin Cities Community Outreach building in NT. The Meals on Wheels, food pantry and clothes closet programs all benefited from donations.

It was then that Ortt was elected to the position previously held by Sen. George Maziarz. He became senator on Jan. 1, 2015. At that time, Arthur Pappas was appointed to take Ortt’s place as mayor. Pappas, along with his wife, decided they would continue the tradition of the charity ball, which was held in February each year.

There were only two months to put the ball in place, so the date was changed to the third Saturday in February. With the help of the former mayor and his wife, this event was able to continue.

Money was raised for the Niagara Community Action Program Inc., a countywide agency dedicated to reducing poverty by conducting programs for self-sufficiency. This agency has a satellite office in NT at the Redeemer Lutheran Church, assisting people with various needs. It was a short time frame, but the event was a success.

The year after, the charity chosen was the Nor-ton Red Jacket Club Inc., which operates a 25-acre park on Sweeney Street in NT. For over 70 years, this property has hosted educational and recreational fun activities for thousands of children from the city. The ball again was a huge success raising the most money ever in the past years.

 The following year, the charity to benefit from funds raised, was the local Stephen Sikora Post 1322. This organization donates to numerous causes and provides a special place for many events in the city. It has been a dream to raise money for the veterans and finally that was accomplished.

Proceeds from the 2018 event benefitted the Boys and Girls Club, which serves more than 3,500 youth from Erie and Niagara counties. Families are never turned away due to lack of ability to pay. Those who attend regularly achieve academic success and improve relations with their peers. Members show good character and citizenship with improved eating habits.

Last year, the chosen charity was the Twin Cities Meals On Wheels, a volunteer organization dedicated to providing nourishing meals for residents whose mobility has been diminished. It also helps to foster independence for local seniors.

When the first ball was planned, it was a black-tie affair, but it was found that, due to the tuxedo option, many did not feel they could attend. So, the black-tie option was eliminated, allowing more people to attend feeling comfortable in a suit of their choice.

Since Pappas and his wife have taken over the ball, many local businesses have stepped up and donated the food, floral pieces, desserts, candy and music to make this event a success. The Pappas family is extremely appreciative of all their contributions.

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