| Danielle Eaton
WEST SPRINGFIELD – The West Springfield Boys and Girls Club has found a unique way to host one of the annual fundraisers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Resource Development Director Sarah Calabrese said the Flutes and Flavors event is one club’s most significant fundraisers each year. However, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic restricting large gatherings, the club was forced to change how they planned to host the event.
Calabrese told Reminder Publishing while they “are not gathering a crowd anymore,” they plan to “still keep the social aspect” of the event. She explained that rather than participants gathering at a venue to enjoy drinks, food, a live auction and music, instead, they will participate in a drive-through food and beverage distribution, participate in an online auction and enjoy live music through a live Facebook stream.
She explained that the first part of the event, which will take place on May 22, involves food and drink vendors, who will be appropriately distanced, distributing “pre-packaged food and beverages” to participants in their cars. “Nothing will be prepared on site,” she said.
From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., cars will arrive at the Big E on 1305 Memorial Ave. in West Springfield. Calabrese said cars will “drive in from Gate 2, the main gate,” and then drive down the Avenue of States, in masks, where the vendors will be located. From there, cars will drive, down the road where they will be given food and drinks. “People are just grabbing it, saying a quick hello,” she said.
Food and drink vendors will include restaurants such as the Storrowton Tavern and Pintu’s Indian Palace. Also serving food and drinks will be the restaurant, Crazy Seafood, who has not yet opened to the public. Calabrese said the owner of Crazy Seafood, who also owns K’s Restaurant in Westfield, will be serving food from both establishments.
Calabrese said those who had already bought tickets for the event from the club will be able to show their tickets for admittance, and those who bought tickets through the website Eventbrite will have their names on a list. For those arriving the day of the event wanting to participate, Calabrese said there is a suggested donation of $20 per adult. Children will be allowed to participate for free, and Calabrese said activity kits for kids will be distributed the day of the event.
“Any donation, large or small, will allow us to reopen our doors for summer programs, and any donation will continue to allow us to offer virtual programming, and weekly snack and activity kits,” she said.
In previous years, the club had to put a limit on how many tickets as Flutes and Flavors was held in a venue with limited capacity. However, Calabrese said this year, they won’t need to put a limit on how many people can participate in the event and the club is prepared should a large influx of participants arise. She said the vendors will be space appropriate so as not to “create a jam.”
“I think we’ve got it down, we’ve been working with Big E security and we know we can handle whatever influx comes in,” she said.
After receiving food and drinks, Calabrese said “people can then have their own happy hour in their house and they can tune into a live concert from the band, The Storytellers.” The concert, she explained, would be broadcast via a live stream on Facebook from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. and will be accessible for anyone, not just those participating in the event, to watch.
Another way in which this year’s event will be different, Calabrese said, will be an online auction rather than an in-person auction that will end the night of May 22. The auction allows anyone interested to register and bid on items such as tickets to a New England Patriots game against the San Francisco 49ers that was donated by Pintus, a date with West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt and a script from “The Simpsons” signed by the cast of the show. Another prize, Calabrese said, was the opportunity to create their own pizza at Sorrento Pizza and Restaurant in West Springfield, and have that pizza on the menu for an entire month.
Those wanting to register and participate in the auction, which is sponsored by the Sullivan Paper Company, can do so at charityauction.bid/flutesandflavors.
Calabrese said the auction was “really easy to register as a bidder [and] start bidding.” She said the website will also send “notifications if someone outbids you,” making it easy to manage and keep track of bids placed. Calabrese also recognized another sponsor, their outdoor patio sponsor, Kelley and Katzer Real Estate.
Calabrese said while “every cent is super important,” the most important aspect of this event is bringing the community together. “Right now, we recognize the community needs to come together to do something fun. People are stuck at home,” she said. “[It’s] just about bringing the community together and raising awareness for some of the local businesses.”
More information about the event can be found at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/flutes-flavors-2020-tickets-87329792761?fbclid=IwAR3pEK_KA3IuGR3V9E8VyzVnc3at0WjHKFZdTWiZcEyiGEssXAETNTGiX2U or on the West Springfield Boys and Girls Club page. Anyone wishing to not participate in the event, but still wishing to donate can do so online at http://wsbgclub.org/donate/donate/ or by mailing a donation to the West Springfield Boys and Girls Club at 615 Main St. West Springfield, MA 01089.