WEEKEND: Port Angeles celebration to benefit charity

PORT ANGELES — Saturday night brings an opportunity to celebrate life — by ringing in 2012 and reaching out across the world.

The eighth annual New Year’s Eve at the Elks Naval Lodge features a lavish buffet, classic rock and modern dance hits by Mister Sister, a silent auction and a dessert auction, all to benefit Hilda’s Hope for Life, the Port Angeles-based charity founded by Arlene Blume.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the buffet laid out at 7 p.m.

Dishes include seafood chowder, miniature flatiron steaks, crab artichoke dip, Thai chicken satay, Asian salad, Mediterranean pastries and fruit and cheese platters.

At midnight, “we’ll do a balloon drop and the whole nine yards,” promised Blume, the Elks’ club manager.

Tickets are $45 person or $315 for a table for eight and include dinner plus party favors and champagne at midnight.

To make reservations, phone 360-457-3355.

Tickets will also be sold at the door of the Elks Lodge, which is upstairs at 131 E. First St.

Blume traveled to Kampala, Uganda, for the first time back in 2004. There, she met many ailing children, including baby Hilda.

Hilda weighed only about 3 pounds and had such a severe case of thrush that she had to be fed with an eyedropper.

A few weeks after Blume returned home to Port Angeles, she received word that Hilda hadn’t survived — but that news did not daunt her a bit.

Uganda charity

She formed Hilda’s Hope for the other Ugandan children — and their caregivers — who are coping with diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV.

Hilda’s Hope raises funds to send the youngsters to school and even college, in the case of Sister Margaret, a young woman who has completed a degree in medicine and is now a practicing physician in Uganda.

“People say, ‘Why are you doing this? Why don’t you do something here?’” Blume said earlier this week.

“We have so many more resources” by comparison in the United States.

In Uganda, people with HIV are considered unemployable — until they receive help in the form of job training and tuition assistance from organizations like Hilda’s Hope.

“Supporting something like this is a great way to kick off the new year,” Blume said of Saturday’s dinner and dance party.

In addition to the ticket revenue, proceeds from the silent auction, dessert auction and wine bar will all go to Hilda’s Hope for Life.

Mister Sister will start its show at 9 p.m. with music from the 1960s on up to current hits, all delivered through a state-of-the-art sound system, said drummer and vocalist John Frichette.

‘Great room’

The Elks lodge “is a great room. We do special effects, lights and fog to make it a production,” he promised.

The band’s repertoire ranges from The Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There” to Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” to Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger.”

Frichette said his band especially enjoys working on New Year’s Eve, since people cut loose a bit more on the dance floor.

Blume, already in a party mood, said the buffet and dessert auction of treats from local restaurants will make this event a particularly delectable one.

“It’s going to be a total riot,” she said, “and the food’s going to be unreal.”

It’s a way to support children who otherwise have very little, Blume said. Then she added a trite-yet-true point: “Our children are our future.”

________

Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

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