WATERCOLOR — After a record-breaking fundraiser earlier this year, the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation on Tuesday presented 15 local charities with almost $3 million in proceeds from its annual Destin Charity Wine Auction.
The 13th annual Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation Check Presentation Ceremony was held at the WaterColor Lake House.
"It's the best night of the year!" said John Russell, the president of the fundation.
"What they do with the money is what really matters to us," Russell said. "It means they don’t have to fund raise nearly as much. ... They need to focus on their kids.”
The DCWAF held its first wine auction in 2006 and has raised around $18 million since then. The auction is the third largest charity wine auction in the United States behind ones held in Napa, California, and Naples.
"If there’s something bad that happens to a kid in our neighborhoods, we want to fund an organization that helps them," Russell said.
The amount awarded to each charity was kept secret until the recipients were onstage at the event and given large, ceremonial checks.
"It's always a fabulous surprise and they are so generous, not just to us, but to everyone in the community," Jane Bahr, a founding board member of the Children's Volunteer Health Network. "This is the most giving community I’ve ever lived in.”
The Children's Volunteer Health Network received a check for $250,000 that will be used to help fund its mobile and stationary dental clinics.
Bahr said the money is critical because CVHN relies on the community and donations. "We can't do it without them," she said.
The Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy Center received $280,000. The money will be used to help pay off the Pierce Family Advocacy Center in Walton County and to help fund a prevention initiative in schools called "Child Safety Matters."
Julie Porterfield, CEO of the Children's Advocacy Center, said the money from the foundation is crucial to her organization.
"Without that (the money), the number of children we’ve served would not have gotten the mental health services that they’ve needed," Porterfield said.
The ECCAC serves about 700 kids a year.
The other recipients were:
AMIKids Emerald Coast, $145,000
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast, $200,000
Children in Crisis, $200,000
Emerald Coast Autism Center, $200,000
Food for Thought Outreach Inc., $150,000
Habitat for Humanity of Walton County, $192,000
Mental Health Association of Okaloosa/Walton Counties, $100,000
Opportunity Place Inc., $100,000
Pathways for Change, $170,000
Sacred Heart Hospital of the Emerald Coast, $220,000
Shelter House, $140,000
The Arc of the Emerald Coast, $140,000
Youth Village, $100,000
Next year, the Westonwood Ranch will become the 16th charity to benefit from the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation.
The foundation's next event is its Harvest Wine and Food Festival at Watercolor on Oct. 25-27.
For more information about the event or the foundation, visit www.DCAWF.org