You’ve heard the expression, “I could get it for a song.”
What if I told you it was possible to help someone in need for a song–would you sing?
Now’s your chance. Two Wilton friends, Lora Sherman and Lynne DiNanno, have planned a fun karaoke evening to benefit Person-to-Person, an agency that helps people in poverty meet basic needs of food and shelter, and they’re hoping as many people can join them as possible for the fundraiser/food drive event. Their “Jingle Bell Rock ‘Care-oke for a Cause’ Ladies’ Night Out” will take place at Bianco Rosso on Wednesday, Dec. 11 from 9 p.m. to midnight.
“We’re always about the holidays, and getting people together. We recently went to a karaoke night that was a lot of fun and very successful. There was such bonding and it was a lot of fun, seeing people in a different light. We walked away saying we’ve got to do another one of these,” DiNanno said, adding that it was important to tie any event she planned to giving back to the community.
Thanks to serendipitous timing, DiNanno recently learned of the Norwalk- and Darien-based Person-to-Person.
“I recently went to an informational meeting about Person-to-Person at Bianco Rosso where they were sharing what they do. So I told Lora how I was just inspired by this organization and I’d love to raise money for them, or do something, bring people together and raise money for a cause. P2P was top of mind after going to that informational meeting.”
Both because Bianco Rosso had been the setting for the information session and because DiNanno knew BR’s owner Mario Lopez would be open to the idea of hosting another event, she and Sherman asked if the restaurant could be their event spot.
“We go to Bianco Rosso a lot, and since the initial P2P meeting was there, I talked to Mario about it and he was all about helping and wanting to give back,” she said. “It’s a Ladies’ Night, a Care-Oke for a Cause. We went with it and put it together. It’s just what we do, it was a no brainer and hopefully we’ll make it a success.”
They both know that success is dependent on as many people hearing about the event as possible. So they sent out an email to their pretty large circle of friends, and strongly encouraged people to extend the invite to as many people as they could.
“We talked about doing invitations, and Lora and I know a lot of people in town–she grew up here and I moved here 13 years ago. But every time I turn a corner, I meet another new person. When we talked about sending invites, it felt more like a come one, come all. So we sent the flyer invite to people and said, “spread the word!” Even though we’re all friends, they may have other circles of friends. I didn’t want it to be invitation only, I want it to be open to everyone.” So signs, flyers and posters are part of the word-of-mouth marketing. “We want everyone to feel that they’re invited. We felt like it was an opportunity to open it to everyone.
DiNanno has seen the snowball effect already. “The point was to reach people we don’t know. As much as we all love being with our friends, and we certainly know they’re going to come out and support the cause, it’s really nice knowing you’ve reached somebody new. The whole concept came full circle when one of the first checks that came in was from someone that I don’t know. Which means that person felt like they were included, and that they could be part of helping out a bigger cause. Wilton is a great place for that reason, it’s filled with good people who want to get involved, give back and aren’t afraid to sign up for something where they may not know everyone but will meet some new friends.”
Spots are limited to around 100 people, based on space, so the women are encouraging people to sign up quickly. “That’s our goal, if we can get that, we’ll have a substantial donation to Person-to-Person, be able to cover costs, and collect food for the food pantry.”
Tickets to the event cost $85 (which includes light appetizers and beverages) plus a donation of peanut butter and jelly. “Person-to-Person told us they can never have enough peanut butter and jelly. and I love the concept that we’re giving them a big “sandwich” — peanut butter, jelly and cold, hard cash, or ‘bread.’ It’s keeping it as simple as we can while making a difference. And have a good time. It’s coming from Wilton, a combination of everyone’s effort.”
DiNanno and Sherman are contributing the cost of the karaoke rental and production. From the $85 ticket cost, a portion covers the expenses of Bianco Rosso and the majority will be donated to Person-to-Person.
“I was really impressed with the outreach that P2P does–they serve clients in Wilton, Weston, Westport and Norwalk–we really are giving back to our community. Hopefully this event will get more people involved with them. And hopefully we’ll make this an annual event.”
As for what makes karaoke such a great thing for a fundraiser? “I like the idea, that it’s really for everyone. Don’t be shy, even if you come for an hour, and you’ll walk away smiling. Maybe from seeing someone you didn’t expect to break out and sing. A lot of people go up to perform together, and it’s a lot of fun to do something you don’t normally do. At the end of the day, it’s a lot of fun, and to know you’re making a difference. It’s a great holiday spirit thing to do.”
When it comes to singing, DiNanno says her own approach to karaoke mirrors that of her philanthropy: “sharing is caring.” So no likely solos for her, but you’ll still see her on the microphone “I’m going to share that mic with others, that’s for sure!” she laughed, adding, “I like the oldies, I like Cher, I like Cyndi Lauper. There are a lot of good songs but you really have to think about ones you’re capable of singing. When you’re up there, you gotta know the words!”
Her advice, especially for anyone on the fence about coming to the event: “Get up there, don’t be shy and just have fun! Take a chance and know that everyone there just really supports that.”
Bianco Rosso is located at 151 Old Ridgefield Rd. in Wilton. To register, print out this form (below) and send it in with payment, or contact the organizers by calling 917.796.2472 or 203.858.8144.